AT&T isn’t so interested in building wireless networks these days, and in fairness neither is Verizon. New subscribers are non-existent, Wi-Fi is eating their lunch and no one wants to pay more for cell service.
Investors might have bailed, but big carriers put a death-grip on CAPEX and cast a lifeboat of “5G” speculation that bought them time to maneuver—such as to buy a media conglomerate. Meanwhile consumers are shortchanged and a long supplier chain suffers. For more on this, read: “Why Mobile Carriers Love 5G Hype, and the Rest of Us Shouldn’t.”
No one can know how things will pan out with AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner—assuming it’s even approved—but I wonder about the consumer’s appetite for bundled media. Isn’t everything moving toward á la carte and lower cost? Millennials prefer streaming subscriptions and gorge on free content from social media. Packaged services are more costly, not to mention that it would seem anachronistic for a new generation to lament, “A million channels and nothing to watch!”
Meanwhile, carriers with monopolistic protection are doing little to expand the internet beyond city limits, so most Americans remain chronically underserved or at the mercy of cable providers with famously poor service.
Will we ever see an end to the digital divide?
The answer is YES, and it’s a genie that I don’t see getting stuffed back into the bottle. I’m talking about “fixed wireless” to the home, and enterprising WISPs (wireless internet service providers) have already delivered it to more than 30,000 doors this year. It’s a microcosm—and watch it GROW, because the capital investment is low, recurring revenue is solid and performance is off the hook.
What’s it look like? Well, your parents had a big gangly TV antenna on their roof. You’ll have a sleek little weatherproof “radio” up there with an antenna about the size of a dinner plate, and it will connect to your router with a standard Ethernet cable. It’s no pipe dream or hype. More than 30,000 homes are already connected with speeds averaging 200-300 Mbps for about $80/month.
And there’s an added bonus.
Cable news will be extracted, door by door, like a rabid squirrel that’s terrorized our homes. Instead of “BREAKING NEWS” to keep us in a collective panic, we’ll just have tons of bandwidth and endless destinations to choose from. Choose peacefully, my friend. In time the “mainstream media” will blend into the endless internet expanse, and we’ll look back in astonishment at the maddening influence they once had. But more on that in my next post!