Tonight President Obama will give his first State of the Union Address. Most of the address will be about subjects driven by the politicians and media: The war in Afghanistan, the withdrawal from Iraq, the now on life support health care bill, the economy and job creation verses job losses. All of this is very interesting but I wonder if telecom interests will get more than a one-word mention as it did in his address to the nation last year.
Yes, telecom was referenced once out of 6,242 words. It is an odd situation where an industry that is vital to America's security, economy and future is not given a place on the national stage. Yes, over $7 billion was included in the Stimulus bill to expand broadband into un-served or underserved areas. However, in looking at the allocations made to date, there seems to be little rhyme or reason as to how areas or service providers are being selected. That is not surprising, as it will be driven by a combination of political decisions and meeting basic criteria. Moreover, simply pushing the deployment of broadband is a tactic and not a strategy. The real discussion regarding telecom must evolve into its usage and away from accessibility.
A recent study showed that where broadband is available; its adoption rate is exceeding 70%. Therefore, we know that Americans are seeing the value of broadband in the conduct of their personal or professional lives. What the study does not do, is give us an understanding as to the usage of the broadband and whether it is properly engineered to support the desired usage.
Broadband is supporting a myriad of technologies and applications across a wide range of consumer demographics. And while we can expect large service providers to develop multiple offerings, will those offerings be optimized for any given set of applications or functionality? The needs of a business user are different from those of a gamer on the same network, the time that bandwidth is needed and the amount required varies greatly between the two groups. Additionally, as baby boomers continue to lead in the use of the internet overall (mostly due to the size of the group), other age groups are more far more varied in their approach. When I sit down with the younger members of the office, I am constantly learning about new sites and applications. I seldom adopt them, as they do not fit either a professional or a personal need for me. However, will the networks in place in ten years support the demands of the younger members of our society? Will they support the security concerns for the country as a hold? As we transition from IPv4 to IPv6, will it be every carrier and business for themselves to understand the implications and prepare for them individually?
Perhaps it is the role of the FCC to establish some type of primer or non-mandated recommendation for the timetable and requirements of these transitions. When will that discussion take place? I expect more very quickly from Julius Genachowski (FCC Chairman), Vivek Kundra (US CIO) and Aneesh Chopra (US Chief Technology Officer). The Broadvox focus is on IP communications using VoIP/SIP Trunking but our general interest is on the success of telecom across the country and around the world.