What Does Ubiquitous Broadband Mean for the Telecoms and the Cable Industry?


Verizon prevented municipal WiFi networks in Pennsylvania based on ‘unfair competition.’ Verizon has a clear reason: municipal wireless broadband would obviate the phone lines. It would obviate cable companies, too.

Ubiquitous broadband – no matter who provides it – will mean that voice, video, and data services are available through the air. Traditional phone, radio, cable, and other media distribution is disintermediated. Storage servers and a pretty front-end indexed by search engines could handle all of recorded media. Interactive media on TCP/IP replaces and moves forward phones, video conferencing, etc.

What does it cost to serve wireless broadband? Because of the ease of offering secure access to wide geographic areas, competition will rapidly draw the price toward the cost. The total revenues of these firms are negligible compared to the cumulative revenues of phone companies, cable companies, cellular and DSL providers, and radio companies (including satellite).

The consolidation of industries and shrinking pie are bad enough, but the elimination of barriers to entry and the fall of the profit margin make the shift a major net detraction financially. The breadth of industries are waving investment warning flags. There may be winners as well as losers, but how long is it going to take you personally to migrate from your cable bill, phone bill, cellular bill, ISP bill, and satellite radio fee toward VoIP phone in your PDA and a media server in your PC at $50/month?

To make matters worse, the access fee might drop to free when the service bundles hosting and storage. If they get to track you, target advertising, and other applications, they could reasonably pay consumers to be in their network. In other words, the money is in the nodes not the lines between them.

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