Tension over impact of potential broadband legislation on cable, wireless players
Infrastructure build-out and net neutrality are the most significant regulatory developments for the broadband industry. “There’s a lot of debate, a lot of swirl,” the specialist said. “There’s a good amount of concern in the industry that there are going to be some unintended consequences of whatever legislation is actually passed, if it is actually passed.”
One of the most hotly debated stipulations relates to internet speed. “In order to get a subsidy under the language as it’s now written, they are requiring 100 megabits per second symmetrical, so 100 up[stream] and 100 down[stream],” the specialist explained. Although various bills are being proposed on Capitol Hill, the way the original threshold was written in the Clyburn-Klobuchar bill is “getting a lot of attention”.
This is because, at present, the only providers that can meet that threshold are those in the fibre optic business. “Obviously, that has gotten a lot of debate, wireless, satellite, cable companies all saying, ‘We can’t meet these speeds. You’re saying you’re technology neutral but you are actually picking a winner’,” the expert added. They also examined concerns around the bill’s preference for government-owned networks.
Another angle covered in the Interview was industry suppliers. “The carriers are going to be under some pressure in terms of supplies because of the supply-chain issues, the chipset issues, the shortages that we’ve seen there, and the skilled-worker shortage is going to be another pressure point for them.” The equipment and raw-material manufacturers are “perhaps the place to look for some opportunities”.
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