One of the early articles I penned here at the Baltimore Examiner had to do with Verizon’s decision to bypass Baltimore City in its construction of FIOS. FIOS is the company’s high speed fiber optic feeder system designed to deliver ultra fast broadband network speeds, as well as Verizon’s version of cable TV.
The hearing could best be described as a dog-and-pony show that gave CWA members a podium for attacking Verizon, along with several neighborhood groups that accused the company of “redlining.” As we progressed through the second half of 2010, and now most of 2011, it has now become clear why Verizon chose not to spend the millions needed to build-out a hardline FIOS system. It would be competing not only against AT&T and Comcast, but against itself.
While some of you may be scratching your heads, give me a second to clear up the confusion. Shortly after the hearings, Apple released the iPhone4 to the swarming masses, followed less than a month later by Motorola’s much hyped Linux based Droid smartphone. During the past year, the smart phone and mobile device market has exploded.
By the end of 2010, Verizon Wireless had activated their 4G LTE broadband wireless technology throughout the Baltimore region. This implementation did include the city, and allowed users to access average download speeds of 12.19 Mbps. By the end of this year, AT&T should have their LTE build out completed in the Baltimore area, pushing the speed envelope for both companies.
It is reasonable to believe that Verizon did not anticipate the surge of mobile broadband popularity when it first embarked on building out its FIOS product. By 2010 however, the writing was clearly on the wall. Mobile broadband was going to overtake hardline broadband by the end of this decade. And we now have the proof.
While following the AT&T merger legal fiasco, I learned that Cisco is predicting that mobile broadband will overtake land line based Internet by the year 2015. With the burgeoning popularity of mobile based broadband, why would Verizon commit millions of dollars to building a FIOS plant within Baltimore City?
This also coincides with what I reported in a June 3, 2010 article, in which I predicted that “the city’s broadband future may be in wireless.” Given these latest figures, it is now clear that Verizon was correct in their assertion that suspending FIOS construction was a “business decision.”
There was nothing sinister here, just a clear peek into the future that is trending more toward wireless technologies. A trend that will eventually lead to the elimination of land based communications and data transfers, and more than likely, Verizon’s FIOS.