Study: Muni broadband not much of a threat

Mon, 07/31/2006 - 8:00pm

Despite a flurry of announcements detailing deployment plans, municipal-run broadband services aren't poised to make much of a competitive dent in the next few years, according to a new forecast from Strategy Analytics.

The research firm forecasts that public broadband networks being installed in big cities such as Philadelphia, as well as smaller municipalities, will reach up to about 6 million homes during the next five years.

Those networks will "play only a small role" in the U.S. broadband market, which will continue to be dominated by cable operators and telcos, Strategy Analytics said. Moreover, commercial broadband services are expected to decline further, meaning only a fraction of homes will likely rely on low-cost or free public networks as their primary source of Internet access, the firm added.

"We expect a lot of consumers will supplement their cable or DSL service with municipal Wi-Fi; however, they are not going to rely on it exclusively," said James Penhume, director of the Strategy Analytics broadband media and communications service.

Tom Elliot, the author of the report, suggests that cable operators and telcos may be better off working with municipalities rather than fighting their proposed broadband projects.

"Incumbent operators should be looking for ways to make money by cooperating with municipal broadband–not alienating local governments which may be able to help with more important regulatory issues, such as TV franchising or network neutrality," Elliot said.


BendBroadband said it will deploy Mentis Broadband Solutions' Online Order Entry system in a move designed to help the Oregon-based operator automate its sales and customer service operations.

The Mentis product, based on its RTR Platform, will provide a 24x7 channel to consumers looking for a convenient way to order cable products and services. With the RTR Platform serving as the core billing integration and management framework, BendBroadband can automate the purchase of video, data and voice product bundles on its Web site.

The Mentis solution includes a Pricing and Packaging module that enables operators to centralize and manage service codes across operating divisions.


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