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By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2005-01-25 Print this article Print

: Enter Intel"> Its heartening to see that Philadelphia is able to deliver on its promises, but you have to question how generous Verizon, actually any incumbent carrier given monopoly control over broadband services in its area, will be to other municipalities that bring similar proposals to the table. You cant blame Verizon (and, lets face it, Verizon is getting the bum rap here because it happens to be the incumbent carrier in the state that first moved in this direction) if it nixes others that are forthcoming. The issue of market protection is at play here. And, if other states buy into the argument that state-sanctioned monopolies somehow embrace the free market more than municipal operations as Pennsylvania did, municipal programs could be a thing of the past—except we now have a new player in the game. Enter Intel.
As someone said, "The story just keeps getting interestinger and interestinger…."
Its no surprise that Intel has joined the fray. As I said earlier, this is about market protection, and Intel has a distinct interest in this market, separate and apart from that of the incumbent carriers, the telcos. In the effort to expand the boundaries of wireless communications, no company has worked quite so vigorously as Intel. It has staked its future on mobile and wireless technologies, and wide-area wireless, in the form of WiMax, plays a significant role in its plan for the future. Legislation such as HB30 strikes a significant blow to competition among service providers. Instead of offering new technologies to a plethora of competing providers, eager to provide new and better services in an effort to capture customers, telcos that effectively own the market may well opt to sit back and preserve aging infrastructures, once those infrastructures are built. You couldnt blame them. Build-outs are costly. But what happens to innovation when incumbent carriers opt to preserve investments instead of competing on the basis of new services, better performance and price? Innovation is left on the drafting table. To its credit, Intel isnt entering this game as a proponent or adversary to either side. Spokespersons for the company say, instead, it tends to play a mediating role to bring both sides together. Mediation, at this juncture, is just what is needed. To date, the debate over municipal broadband has been bogged down in rhetoric about the free market. But beyond rhetoric, there are serious issues of innovation, economics and what happens to both in a market where state mandate gives a single company control over the future of an entire industry. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

Carol Ellison is editor of's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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