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Broadband Competition and Pricing: Lessons Providers must Learn

in Broadband's Impact/Expert Opinion/National Broadband Plan by
online video ecology; in a grid
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I believe everyone can agree that Broadband Competition and Pricing are high on their lists of (all things broadband). Yes, consumers and businesses alike want a high quality broadband experience with dynamically fast upload and download speeds, and with seamless and unbridled applications to fill their Christmas wish lists.

It seems as though we are going in that direction, at least on the applications front, with innovators like Apple, Cisco, Motorola, and others, where competition is a daily fact of life; where CEO’s champion innovation, and speed to market, while continuing to find cost savings ways to offer a competitive product.

How are the incumbent land-line Broadband ISP’s fairing in the realm of innovation, speed to market, and cost innovation in producing a high quality product at a competitive price? I will give them a (C) on any standardized testing metric. And the reason remains that without sufficient competition, see (New FCC Report Boosts Case for More ISP Competition), a company’s desire or motivation to innovate; to produce a high quality product; provide the best customer service, at the lowest possible price, is just not there.

This kind of mindset can permeate throughout an organization where the (status quo) is accepted and championed; where being first to market with a great product is not needed, with no significant competition to worry about, see (ISPs Raise Broadband Costs -- And Advocates' Ire), and where a mature and declining linear programming market is continuing to produce significant returns, albeit in the short term. But wait, these companies built their networks with private funding and made them hard to emulate, while producing their innovations (during their day), and are now enjoying the spoils.

However, incumbents must act as though they have competition, simply because they will at some point - maybe sooner than later, and this must be drilled into every employee throughout the organization; not just in the isolated places where some level of competition exists. They must model themselves after the Apple’s, Cisco’s, and Motorola’s, and other innovators of the world.

This is a defining moment for the industry, as legislatures through the mantra of the FCC look for ways to create a Broadband competitive market, either through legislation or competitive factors, see (What Would Broadband Competition Look Like?). Now is the time to let go of the status quo and create new markets defined by innovation and price competitiveness. It is happening with the likes of Apple, Netflix, Boxee, Hulu, YouTube and others that value customer service and retention. So, roll up those sleeves and get to work; time is running out.

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Len Grace is a technology industry veteran with over 18 years experience with Comcast Corporation. His insights into pertinent and relevant issues within the Broadband/Telecom/Cable/Wireless and Mobile sectors both inform and enlighten readers on current industry trends, analysis, business strategy, competitive landscape and legislative agendas. Len is the founder & editor of The Cable Pipeline, a technology blog who contributes to various technology websites including Light Reading, (Expert Opinion), SiliconAngle, Cisco Community: Service Provider Mobility, Amdocs: InTouch Community Portal, Bloomberg's bx Business Exchange, CircleID, and Sys-Con Media/Utilizer. Also see his reporting.

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