Can You Hear Me Now?

April 9, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Proposal | 7 Comments

It’s difficult to be decisive some days when there are so many appealing possibilities for an individual project, but I’ve decided to stay close to home.  Yes, it’s the telecom landscape that I will profile for my proposal.

I have mentally modified this so that I can concentrate on what is closest at hand for me. . . the fiber-optic landline network that we are building on the Eastside and Snohomish County (as well as elsewhere in the country).  This is a more manageable look at change and whither the network of the future goes. The wireless element will only be touched upon.

The development of this infrastructure that will reach close to 20 million homes nationwide by the end of 2010 is a major investment in the future and provides virtually unlimited capacity for the continued evolutionary thrust of digital media.  In fact yesterday I was called by one of the owners of GearLive who is planning to move from Seattle to a Verizon fiber-optic network area because 768K upload of files to his server in Texas just ain’t gettin’ it. . . To the degree that bandwidth is the name, all-fiber-optic networks will be the game. . .

The rapidly changing environment is throwing everyone for a loop on whither it shall go. . . Mobility is a principal driver thanks to continuing technological innovation, but policy at national, state and local levels is influencing the long-term outcome.

There is continuing consolidation, spectrum disposition and acquisition, consumer confusion and expectation, new players with technologies that live outside existing policies and new policies for existing technologies.

What is clear is the watershed shift that is occuring on multiple fronts:   Long-distance competition, the initial point of reference in breaking up AT&T almost 25 years ago, has almost disappeared as a discrete service .  Wireless communications has grown exponentially from its early days 20 years ago; IP technology has taken the lead in the past 5 years, making a PC become that holy grail of the ‘one device’ that will do it all – process data, optimize searches, communicate, etc.

Wi-fi and its sister technology, Wi-Max, are coming into play to distribute easily accessible broadband in American cities and even into the heartland as rural consumers raise a ruckus about the digital divide. . . The cable companies, power companies, landline phone companies, wireless companies and the silicon community are all making their way into our communications needs and expectations.

I hope to provide enough background to set the stage for the future of communications, even as we experience it now.  I will use industry, consumer and related research sources to create a sense of the  evanescent nature of what – not so many years ago – was a fixed network for talking which, presumably, will continue to be an importat form of communication. 

However, with the many variations on a theme here that we experience whether we IM, e-mail, text, chat or talk, the future may be something that we can’t even see today, though, like the landline telephone, predicated on a previous technology.

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