Whenever I’m tempted to predict the future of communications services, a little voice inside whispers to me, “playback Dylan.” Yes, Bob Dylan. The fact is, most of the predictions I’ve made in the past came true much faster than I would have dreamed, let alone predicted. Which brings me to one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs , “The Times, They are a Changin’. ” Faster than ever, I might add.
Even those of us who live and breathe this business every day continue to be surprised by the growth in demand for advanced communications capabilities, particularly broadband services. A year ago, I spoke at a telecommunications industry conference and dared to make a few predictions:
F Demand for what we call “fixed wireless” broadband services would explode
F The international market would become even more hungry for wireless solutions than the U.S.
F Mid-sized businesses would dive into e-commerce in a big way
F The price of fixed wireless equipment would plummet
F Telecom industry giants would (eventually) discover the promise of fixed-wireless technology.
To be frank, I had no idea how right I would prove to be with one caveat: I predicted those changes would happen over the next five to 10 years. The fact is, most are coming true today, barely a year later. In just a few years, the Net has transformed our lives at home and at the office. It used to be a way to send mail more quickly. Now it’s an at-home shopping mall, an at-your-fingertips research library, an instant stock exchange and things no one had dreamed of half a decade ago.
Mid-sized businesses, which have been dialing into the Net for several years, now are seeing a whole new class of applications made possible by broadband connections to the Net , that can create business and revenue opportunities while boosting productivity. Internationally, the market is growing even faster.
If we’ve learned just one lesson in the past year, it’s that this global communications industry is moving forward at light speed, and companies such as Teligent refuse to stand still.
Last year, we built our business from a start-up to a major player providing broadband access and services across the United States. In the 14 months from October 1998 through December 1999, we successfully launched our local communications networks in San Diego and 39 other major U.S. markets. We demonstrated that fixed wireless networks play a crucial part in extending broadband telecom networks to smaller businesses far beyond the reach of downtown fiber optic lines.
The demand for new innovations is certainly there. The data world is exploding around us. Strategis Group of Washington, DC, estimates that 45 percent of American businesses and more than one-third of American households will be served by broadband, fixed wireless networks within the next three years.
The challenge for all businesses in the communications industry, is to deliver the broadband capacity especially in local networks to meet and grow with the surging demand.
Fortunately, fixed wireless technology is advancing rapidly, and each advance lets up simplify and speed the installation process. But customers generally don’t care much about the technology used to serve them they just want it to work reliably, simply and economically. So while fixed wireless systems are perfect for many of our target customers, fiber optic lines are part of the technology mix we bring to customers. We’re seeking strategic opportunities to make the best use of all technologies to extend the reach of our own wireless networks and create the integrated network of the future.
The opportunity and the challenge for newer companies which are not saddled with an aging infrastructure, is to use advanced technology to create an alternate, competitive network around the copper cage. We aim to create a broadband breakthrough out of today’s bandwidth bottleneck. We must use that network to offer new services and show our customers “the smart way to communicate.”
Kirby G. “Buddy” Pickle, is Teligent’s President and Chief Operating Officer. For more information, visit the Teligent website at www.teligent.com.