Confronting the Bandwidth Challenge

Carl Weinschenk

There are two interesting posts over at CTO Edge that relate to an interview I did with Rosemary Cochran, a principal and co-founder of the Vertical Systems Group, which posted here earlier.


The initial CTO Edge post was a slide show of emerging technologies for small- and medium-size businesses as identified in a survey conducted by CompTIA. The broad-as-a-barn-door category of "network communications products" tied for fifth position with Wi-Fi, server virtualization and enterprise resource management. This inspired blogger Wayne Rash to discuss the current bandwidth landscape from his vantage point. The picture he paints isn't pretty:

The fact is that the communication companies that provide the local delivery of the Internet to businesses and consumers don't seem to feel any urgency in delivering acceptable bandwidth to customers.

He compares the U.S. unfavorably to Western Europe and Asia. Toward the end of this post, Rash asks a question, and then answers it:

And what are our communications providers doing to solve this problem, and in the process help U.S. businesses stay competitive? They're spending money on advertising to explain why Verizon is better than Comcast, or why Cox is better than Verizon. You get the picture. Serving their customers and providing the products they need isn't on the radar of any of the major providers. Instead of spending money making themselves more useful to your business, they're spending money to make themselves feel better.

That's quite an indictment. The Executive Briefing I conducted with Cochran may make Wayne feel a bit better. She suggests that business Ethernet services are rushing to fill the gap. Issues, such as enabling IP and non-IP services to intermingle and create the kind of service-level agreements that businesses need, are being addressed. Said Cochran:

An interesting point is that we are at a tipping point. We are seeing at this point for providers business Ethernet is the fastest-growing strategic data network service. The fastest growing -- not the largest. One where resources are being put into and becoming more critical mass. Services are sold more in scale and in more standardized implementations.

Progress happens in fits and starts, and is uneven at a given point in time. If the marketplace is working correctly, vendors will hear people like Rash and redouble their efforts, since he is in essence asking for a better service provider to come along. It will be interesting to see if the great growth Vertical Systems predicts for business Ethernet results in a higher level of satisfaction in the field.

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