22 June 2010

Investment and demand in fiber to the home

There are a couple of threads that, juxtaposed, are interesting. First, Australia moved ahead with its ambitious fiber-based Internet project, and second, this report gives one pause as to whether it would make sense in the US.

So is the US foolish in not making larger investments in infrastructure like our trading parters, is it wise?

The answer is not so simple and certainly not obvious because of the enormous delay involved in rolling out infrastructure. AT&T witnessed this when it signed on as the exclusive carrier of Apple's ground-breaking iPhone. Indeed, they are arguably still trying to make the investments due to the runaway success of the device.

Would the same thing happen with some as-yet unknown device (Device X), except with end user bandwidth? We don't know if Device X exists, or, if it does, what the impact on existing networks would be. The iPhone has shown us that the potential exists, but how can carriers (and their shareholders) be convinced to make large investments based on revenue streams that are highly uncertain at best? Should the government take these risks?

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