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Survey of Telecom Professionals Reveals Severity of Challenges Facing Rural and Urban Broadband Capacity in the U.S.

CAMPBELL, Calif. April 25, 2012 rural broadband mobile backhaul

"Considering the head start the U.S. once had, today’s broadband networks are woefully inadequate," said Amir Zoufonoun, president and CEO of Exalt Communications. "We sponsored this survey to better understand why, in terms of broadband speed and penetration, the U.S. is falling behind smaller countries with fewer resources. By polling only telecom executives, engineers, and field techs, we thought we’d gain some insights or, at least, find some consensus that could help us understand if product deficiencies might be behind the slowdown. Instead, we found misperceptions and disaccord on the future of broadband networks in both rural and urban regions of the U.S.

"It seems broadband service providers could agree on only one issue – that they’re not making enough money," said Zoufonoun. "While 32 percent of survey respondents believe that broadband connectivity should be a basic human right, 65 percent admit that what’s holding back connectivity in rural areas isn’t technology or demand, but ROI for service providers. The situation isn’t any clearer for mobile operators in urban areas grappling with subscriber demand for data. Although 76 percent of respondents agree on the importance of small cells to improve mobile backhaul capacity, their willingness to consider equipment from small-cell startup companies shows they are still developing their small-cell strategies and searching for the best ways to implement them."

Current state of U.S. broadband: the most recent report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

The survey revealed further disparities when respondents were asked what would most positively impact the availability of broadband connectivity in rural areas. More competition from local utility providers scored the highest here with 32%, and more government funding scored second with 26%. Meanwhile, demonstrating the mixed feelings regarding government interaction, less government regulation (15%) was cited two-to-one over more government mandates (7%).

Additional U.S. broadband survey results include:

  • 32% believe that residential broadband should be a basic human right.
  • 65% said ROI for service providers is most responsible for lack of broadband connectivity. Only 20% cited lack of technology as the cause.
  • 59% responded that "neither would do more than the other" when asked which major political party would do more to promote broadband in rural areas. Democrats (25%) outscored Republicans (16%) among those who had a preference.

Increasing capacity in urban areas

Research firm Infonetics predicts $2.1 billion small-cell networking

Here the industry demonstrated some agreement. When asked about small cells’ importance in network architecture, 76% responded that it was either key to their network’s future (29%) or at least an element of their networks (47%). Another 73% agreed that small cells would help improve network and service performance and the customer experience at the network edge.

Mobile operators can agree on the importance of small cells, but their opinions differ on the vendors and sourcing strategies that will shape the new networks. The survey reflected the wide-open nature of the small-cell market. 39% of respondents said they would be "likely" or "very likely" to turn to a startup vendor for small-cell technology, and 30% said that only established or incumbent vendors would be considered. This change in mobile operator buying patterns is driven by the need to quickly expand and scale networks under increasing traffic demand that can change dramatically in a short period, as evidenced by Apple selling 3 million of the new iPads in just three days.

Additional survey results include:

  • 36% said the need driving small-cell deployments is to meet high demand for capacity in urban areas.
  • 35% said small-cell deployment plans are somewhere between "on the radar" and "in the investigation and planning" stage, while another 35% simply replied "don’t know."

Paul Roberts [email protected]

About Exalt Communications

For further information, contact:

Pamela Valentine

Vice President, Marketing Outbound & Channel

Exalt Communications Inc.

(408) 688-0288

[email protected]

Paul Roberts

Davies Murphy Group, Inc.

(781) 418-2418

[email protected]

SOURCE Exalt Communications

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