This article was published in Broadband Breakfast on December 23, 2022. You can read the original article here
Government funding should be invested in new, modern infrastructure that provides reliable broadband at a lower cost to more people.
When the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November 2021, $65 billion was dedicated to broadband. Various programs were designated to distribute the funding, the largest of which being the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
Governmental broadband programs certainly have important missions. For example, BEAD aims to expand high-speed internet access in all 50 states by allocating federal funding to support infrastructure planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption projects and activities.
However, for over two decades, federal programs have pursued the same approach to their broadband buildouts. They haven’t taken advantage of the innovative technologies that have been made available in the past few years — and as a result, underserved communities aren’t getting the most out of taxpayers’ money.
One of the main reasons behind this is because of the current, consolidated, slow-to-change telecom vendors. In recent years, several larger suppliers pursuing legacy approaches have taken over the industry, and carriers have been left with only a few sources for technology — particularly since they can no longer rely on China for low-cost tech that’s also secure.
Fortunately, 2023 is a fresh start. It’s time to ensure the telco industry is evolving, and that government broadband initiatives are taking advantage of new opportunities and investing in modern infrastructure.
Recently, progress in ‘merchant-silicon,’ or chipsets developed by independent, third-party companies, has forged a path for a new generation of open telco hardware and switches — changing the industry’s entire approach to building networks. Disaggregation breaks the bond between hardware and software, giving carriers control and flexibility to select the most cost-effective and power efficient products. Top carriers are already deploying a disaggregated approach in certain areas, including the network core, fixed edge and mobile RAN.
Additionally, disaggregated networks are surpassing traditional networks when it comes to reliability — from high-speed route convergence, to sub-second failovers during line breaks. As consumers continue demanding faster speeds and greater reliability from their broadband providers in 2023, the telco industry will increase its adoption of disaggregation.
So, what does this revolution mean for vendors? Companies have previously needed expensive, purpose-built silicon to meet the demands of modern networks. As a result, entry into the industry has been difficult, and big-name vendors have been able to dominate.
Now, thanks to the development of off-the-shelf silicon that’s suitable for various network applications, new vendors like EdgeCore, UfiSpace, RtBrick, Drivenets and more are bringing innovative, open hardware and software to the telco space.
While it’s great to see the amount of government funding that’s being dedicated to broadband buildouts today, it shouldn’t be put towards legacy approaches and solutions. The telco industry’s recent evolution has enabled low-cost, high-performance, and efficient broadband rollout — similar to how large cloud-IT providers innovated and improved their operations for building and managing their data centers years ago.
2023 is a new year, so let’s invest government programs in a new, modern infrastructure that provides reliable broadband at a lower cost to more people.
Richard Brandon is Vice President of Strategy at RtBrick. He is a strategic and operational IT marketeer with experience within the networking, telecoms and TV industries. He was listed by Informa Tech, Omdia and Light Reading on their list of Top 50 influencers in the broadband industry. This Expert Opinion is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.