Technology Networking & Internet

The Demand for High Speed Internet

Several broadband providers have announced various plans to offer higher and higher broadband speeds. Verizon continues to announce different markets for its high-speed broadband speed offerings, and has embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign for its rollout of LTE.

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Verizon's LTE coverage will continue to grow, but Verizon states that it will not match its 3G coverage area before 2013.

Verizon launched in 38 markets in December 2010 and announced plans to cover an additional 145 markets through 2011, as well as 60 airports and covering more than 110 million points of presence.

In a sign of the future direction of the broadband industry, The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) reports that the number of LTE devices being manufactured is three times the number from the last quarter. A total of 197 LTE devices by 48 different manufacturers are being introduced to the marketplace. This includes 106 devices which operate in the 700 MHz band of frequency, which is where the D Block (Spectrum dedicated for public safety use) is located.

LTE technology is the industry's answer to the voracious bandwidth appetites of mobile broadband applications and the explosive growth of digital video content. Although manufacturers and LTE providers are definitely investing in the technology, there is more uncertainty in the price at which consumers will pay for higher speed Internet service.

Compounding this uncertainty is the fact that many Americans are still not connected at all - and one of the primary reasons they are not? The cost. Affordability is cited by the majority of respondents in many recent adoption rate studies - including the FCC Broadband Adoption Rate study, conducted in July, 2011.

In addition to the broadband service providers themselves, public safety advocates are also hoping that LTE buildouts will continue. The national plan to build an interoperable broadband public safety network hinges on LTE technology. If consumers are sold on the technology, and the devices, prices for individual user devices for public safety purposes will be lower as well.

What does all this mean to the 48 different manufacturers of LTE devices, including major carriers in the United States such as Verizon, AT&T, Alcatel-Lucent, and T-Mobile? It looks like LTE investments will prove to be a smart investment. Applications are requiring more and more bandwidth, video streaming is gaining in popularity, and many consumers simply want a high speed Internet experience.

LTE providers such as Verizon are also trying to broadband the appeal of the service to high speed users such as the telemedicine industry, education, as well as public safety. According to a Verizon press release regarding the launch of LTE in over 145 markets in 2011:

“Aggressively expanding this powerful network beyond major metro areas reflects the reality that the 4G LTE ecosystem is growing quickly. Our commitment to reach deep into medium-sized cities and smaller communities by the end of 2011 means the power of 4G LTE can be harnessed and provide advanced services to law enforcement, healthcare workers, educators, and other professionals, as well as to individual consumers, sooner than many thought possible."

There is no doubt LTE will increase average speeds and the mere availability of broadband, especially in rural areas. However, with consumers scaling back on many choices due to the state of the economy, and price being a major factor in the decision whether to subscribe to broadband, the rate at which consumers subscribe to LTE service may be slower than some providers may want to wait for profits.

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