Well folks, the time has come to say so long as an industry analyst. I've been doing this role for over 20 years, first with RHK and then as an independent analyst heading my own firm for the past 17.
Its been a good ride and as one of the first analysts covering the broadband space, I've seen a lot of change and I've got shipment and subscriber data going back nearly 100 quarters to prove it. In fact you could say I know where all the broadband skeletons are buried.
Prior to being an analyst, I was heavily involved in the development of the earliest broadband systems - witnessed the first DSL trials and saw more missteps related to FTTH than I care to share. Anyone remember Hybrid Fiber Coax?
In the past 20 years, I've watched regulators both hurt and help the broadband market. Whether making it difficult for municipal operators to offer broadband or require the incumbent operators to unbundle the network - I've seen the good, the bad and the really ugly side of regulation.
But there have also been some really exciting and industry changing events. Starting with Voice over Broadband and the rise of Vonage - which complete reshaped the telephony market. Then the advent of IPTV, following closely with streaming technology that has changed the shape of the video market - albeit in very different ways than telephony.
But if I had to pick one defining moment that really shook the industry and was, undoubtedly, the catalyst for the change that is benefiting the entire broadband market - it was the arrival of Google Fiber.
The National Broadband Plan that was part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act was where Google Fiber came out to play. This was in 2009. As part of the Notice of Inquiry - Google Fiber was very active in providing comments to the FCC, stating that availability of broadband is not enough (they slightly misread this issue). The broadband capacity must be sufficient to enable users to interact with the full richness and depth of the Internet to benefit from the plethora of two-way, interactive online applications and services such as cloud computing, Health Care, Education, Energy Efficiency, Disabilities Access, Public Safety, and E-Government.
As part of its reply comments to the FCC Notice of Inquiry “In the Matter of A National Broadband Plan for Our Future”, GN Docket No. 09-51 (Apr. 8, 2009), Google made the following recommendation:
“As one example, the Commission should select several U.S. communities as test beds for installing a minimum of 1 Gbps fiber connection to every residential household. By creating these test b
eds now, the agency can learn valuable lessons about the various technological and market challenges associated with such private sector deployments. These learnings in particular can foster greater understanding about where to place the appropriate dividing line between private sector and public sector support for build-outs of broadband plant. The test beds also can pave the way to establish loftier benchmarks for future fiber build-outs.”
According to Google, they thought it was important to back up their policy recommendation with concrete action, hence the “Think Big with a Gig” program, which was announced in 2010.
If there was a point in time where everyone got excited about broadband and the possibilities - it was right here. 1,100 cities responded to the RFI to be one of the handful of test markets. This key moment in broadband history is what kick started AT&T to switch to FTTH and as they say...the rest is history.
We are finally beginning to see the real advantages of Fixed Mobile Convergence and the concept of the smart home and smart city are no longer concepts. But as more things change, many things remain the same. Competition for broadband services remains nascent in most U.S. markets and while speeds have improved, the quality of the service isn't quite as good as it should be at this point in time.
It has been exciting to watch the evolution of broadband across the globe, but continue to see the digital divide that never seems to close - it just changes.
I hope that my research and writings have been insightful over the years and I would like to think that I've had some impact on the growth of this segment, but I feel good about what I've accomplished with integrity and accuracy.
Broadbandtrends will live on with different analysts as a consultancy firm focused primarily on the transportation industry and the evolution of electric vehicles and autonomous transportation. Over time, I am sure the name will change to reflect this focus.
In closing, I simply want to say Thank you for letting me have a voice - The Voice of Broadband.