It is no mystery that Big Metal has had its way in the market for far too long. The combination of money that can be used to lobby politicians and distort the perception of the public with disingenuous advertisements has been a strong deterrent to smaller and medium sized businesses that want to deploy FTTH (Fiber To The Home) solutions. After all, the economic and political might wielded by Big Metal (telecoms and cable companies) is considerable, and easily capable of crushing smaller interests.
What happens when they face someone their own size? This is a question that has only recently been answered, and only then by a few extremely large corporations such as Verizon and now Google. With major companies capable of defending themselves legally and in the public eye, there are lots of questions for Big Metal and even for smaller companies.
Question Number One: What Will Big Metal Do?
The biggest question is probably that of the future of Big Metal. Currently, Big Metal is being surrounded by different forces that look prime to pick it apart. All this remains true despite the best efforts of telecoms to branch out into digital cable services and digital cable providers to offer VoIP services. In fact, it might even be more true because of such diversification.
The problem is that slow broadband performance has not only been a method for receiving maximum return on investment, it has also been a tool to hold IPTV back. The future of the Internet and perhaps media delivery in general depends upon lightning fast broadband, and thus companies with vested interest in delivering digital cable services (read as Big Metal) have done all they could to slow broadband progress. After all, if broadband took off, what would stop studios from delivering content directly to the people? The answer is: nothing. Studios are already starting to do that, and the trend continues to take off.
In a world where VoIP costs only a fraction of the price of an old analog call and the entire digital cable paradigm is unstable at best, what is Big Metal to do? There are no good answers here, but one solution might be found in an old expression: If you can’t beat ‘em, you should join ‘em. In short, Big Metal needs to jump ship. Those that jump first will be in the best position to re-market themselves as a fiber optic company.
Question Number Two: Is There Room For Smaller Companies Now?
With the proverbial Genie being unleashed, there are numerous smaller companies that are starting to take advantage of unique situations that exist within smaller communities that have previously been suffering under the none-too-gentle care of exclusive arrangements made by governments and companies that staff smooth talking negotiators. Examples of the inroads made by smaller fiber optic firms at the expensive of Big Metal include Utopia Net and Bingham.net.
Question Number Three: Why did Big Metal Think That They Could Hold Out Forever?
The biggest unanswered question would seem to be: why did Big Metal think that they could hold out forever? There are very few indications that Big Metal has adequately prepared to meet the future. Instead, it seems that most cable companies and telecoms actually spent less energy and effort preparing for the inevitable deployment of fiber than they did against protecting their existing investment in copper wiring. Was the plan to continually lobby and stall? If so, then certainly the arrival of major players such as Google and Verizon threw Big Metal’s plans into utter chaos. Despite this, FTTH deployments from Big Metal still seem unlikely in the near future, perhaps because fiber optic networks seem to be contained to a fairly small portion of the country.
One thing is certain, without big names like Verizon and Google throwing their weight around, the Big Metal stranglehold on broadband would have lasted a lot longer, perhaps long enough to cripple the country.