A Different View on Broadband Sustainability

February 24, 2009

in Access,The Blog

 A Different View on Broadband Sustainability

I have assisted several investors build broadband business plans/models the last few years. And I have always been requested to prove the sustainability of the project as a way to help my occasional employer achieve its objectives (ie get funding, decide and schedule the investment etc.)

However, I can’t honestly align myself with the notion that sustainability must be directly linked with financial viability when it comes to broadband deployment. Does really financial viability become synonymous to success? Because, if this is true then most likely the educational system of every nation should be considered a disaster!

We definately need to understand the bigger picture when accounting for broadband benefits. The success of a broadband project has to be evaluated based on its objectives and not necessarily on its financial profitability. I understand that a private firm requires profits quickly in order to invest but governments (luckily) have quite different views and expectations from broadband infrastructure. Only if an investment is pursued to spur economic activity should be judged purely on financial terms. Otherwise, it must be evaluted based on whether it achieved its goals (e.g. increase awareness, encourage innovation, open market to outsiders etc). Never shall we forget that broadband is only a small piece in what we like to call Information Society, however, its impact to inter-sectoral economic activity and growth will be so immense as it is almost impossible today to accurately estimate and measure.

Did the first power plants and the distribution grids that brought electricity to the cities’ main squares and central streets were considered economically viable? Certainly not. But they were made, and noone probably understood why, at the time. In the end, this simple solution, whose adoption rates and benefits was almost impossible to forecast, (along with standardization, availability, quality of service etc) boosted innovation and created an economic and social ecosystem that we all consider for granted today. Did the road to “villabajo” and “villariba” build on pure financial criteria or simply for the benefits associated with social inclusion, and the right of people for equal opportunities?

I think it’s time to assess broadband in a broader context, far broader than a colorful P&L chart…

share save 171 16 A Different View on Broadband Sustainability
  • The Green Fiber Evangelist

    That's why I'm convinced that Broadband is of the Collectivities & Munis responsibility, not of the private telcos.
    In this regard, massive FTTH roll-outs won't come from those telcos – except maybe in the US, but this has to be put on perspective with the Obama' Stimulus Plan. FTTH's future is in the hands of the collectivities…

Previous post:

Next post: