Tech vs. Telecom

Are the big telecom companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon tech companies? Or are they giant, lumbering change-averse utilities of yesteryear? Well, they’re sort of in-between. I would like to see Comcast succeed because they are a major employer and providing support to local startups in my city. And yet, I have had awful experiences with them and just dropped them in favor of Verizon. I’ll be happy with Verizon until my introductory promotion runs out.

These companies are not good enough. They are not providing the kind of internet we need at a price we can afford. This article in Wired says Apple, Google, and Facebook will end up eating them alive, by accident.

These tech titans didn’t plan to take down the telcos. But they depend upon you having fast, reliable internet, so they’re bringing everything in-house. This promises to make things drastically better for you as a consumer, so if you hate big telecoms, you’ll feel schadenfreude at their demise. But you might end up with more of the same as the new guard becomes the old guard…

You’ve probably heard about Google Fiber and its shift toward wireless Internet over fiber-optic cables. Google Fi mobile service could be even more radical. Instead of building cell towers, Google resells access to Sprint and T-Mobile networks. Companies like Cricket and TracFone do this too, but Google-Fi lets your phone use the best signal available at any moment…

As new technologies and expanded access to the wireless spectrum drive down the cost of operating cell services, Google and other wireless brokers will be able to create nationwide–even worldwide–networks. That would make wireless service a commodity and shift the balance of power from incumbents like AT&T to companies like Google.

I wonder what major industry will be the next to go down. Will it be the fossil fuel industry challenged by renewables (the coal industry is already close to collapse), the finance industry challenged by upstart new financial tech companies (if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot again first), or the traditional telecoms falling to the new tech giants?

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