Sunday, February 28, 2016

A manifesto for telecom infrastructure in the 21st century

More than a decade into the twenty-first century, it is clear a new set of principles is needed to support the modernization and expansion of telecommunications infrastructure. Much of the United States remains without adequate advanced telecommunications infrastructure necessary to deliver modern voice, data and video telecommunications services to homes, schools and businesses. A major impediment is how the problem and solutions are conceptualized, based on the subscription-based, vertically integrated proprietary infrastructure model established in the pre-Internet era. A new set of principles is necessary in order to move forward in the 21st century.
  1. Holistic view of telecommunications infrastructure. Rather than discrete, local “broadband networks,” a holistic view of telecommunications infrastructure is needed in accordance with Metcalfe’s Law, which holds the value of a network increases with the number of connections to it. A complete network enables users to obtain information and communicate across town, across state borders and globally. 
  2.  With fiber to the premise (FTTP) infrastructure, throughput speed should not be key metric. There exists a general consensus that FTTP infrastructure has the capacity to support both current and future telecommunications needs and is not prone to obsolescence. Given fiber’s large carrying capacity, throughput speed should no longer be used as a primary method of defining telecommunications infrastructure.
  3. Public works infrastructure. Due to high costs of construction and maintenance, telecommunications infrastructure should be built and maintained as public infrastructure like streets and highways. Its high cost structure does not allow it to function as a competitive market offering and produces widespread market failure and disparate access.

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