I moderated a session on UBB last week at the FISPA/WISPA show, and it was pretty clear that UBB was a key element in the transitional phase from where ISP networks are now and where they are going to be in the future. As operators, the consensus is that user consumption has increased at least 50%, but revenues are staying flat and the business model for unlimited usage is pretty much done. In the WISP market, UBB is going to be critical for survival. In fact, I strongly believe that the ultimate goal of implementing UBB is to generate at least some of the revenue needed to pay for the network upgrades that will be needed to provide higher caps and higher speeds to users. Without UBB and deterrents to unlimited consumption, our nation’s broadband network performance will continue to degrade.
On a somewhat related note, I attended a State of Nebraska Broadband Forum meeting, where the state PUC introduced the initial data from their broadband mapping, surveying and planning efforts. One of the major points of the survey was that Internet access is very price sensitive – and the major reason for lack of penetration in many demographics is cost. People with dialup were on dialup because of price. People with broadband connections were happy with the performance of their connections, but were unhappy with the price. I have speeds up to 4meg available across nearly my entire network, but 42% of my subs choose to purchase connections that are under 768K. Most of this is due to price, even though it is only a $10 jump from $24.95/month to $34.95/month to go from 384k to 1meg.
Many people think that fiber is the answer, but we simply can’t afford to subsidize fiber networks everywhere right now and its not going to get done based on the current business models unless there is a mechanism to generate some kind of revenue from all of this additional usage.
One last tidbit from the forum – Verizon claims to have 3-6meg speed mobile wireless in our area. What an exquisite work of fiction! I ran 10 speedtests on my smartphone during the course of the forum, and not a single one even met the 768K/256K government requirement for broadband. Of all the broadband related trends in government right now, the compulsion to throw money and spectrum at mobile wireless “toy broadband” is one of the most disturbing. We might as well subsidize playstations.