There’s a lot of hubbub on the Net today around a new Wall Street Journal article analyzing who benefits from President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to create universal broadband access. Among the winners listed are equipment makers like Motorola. Without going into much detail, the article states that operators would face massive network upgrades if the government defined broadband as something higher than the current standard of 768 kbps. That’s true to a point, but there’s more to the story.
Don’t get me wrong, Motorola is very happy to help service providers improve the nation’s broadband infrastructure. From wired to wireless, from customer premise equipment to headends, from HFC to FTTH – this is what the Motorola Home and Networks Mobility business does. However, there are two points worth clarifying.
First, broadband speeds are increasing with or without government intervention. I’m not taking a position here on whether or not intervention is needed, but in the last year alone we’ve seen huge increases in broadband speed tiers across several regions. And yes, Motorola is already benefiting.
Second, there are many different ways to increase broadband speeds, and a lot of them don’t involve complete network overhauls. For example, operators can selectively drive fiber deeper into their networks and use technologies like Enhanced Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing to make each fiber strand deliver bandwidth to a greater number of subscribers.
Will Motorola be a winner if the government follows through on its push for universal broadband access? Sure, particularly in areas where no broadband exists today. But I’m feeling pretty sanguine about the broadband network business whether the new White House administration makes it a near-term federal priority or not. There are lots of ways to make broadband better, and lots of market incentives too.