Our latest report,"It's In The Air: Wireless Delivers the Promise of Broadband – Without the Wait", looks at how wireless broadband will bring the benefits of broadband to rural communities in Canada and the developed world, as it will to the developing world.
The digital divide has captured the attention of attention policy makers around the world. In Canada, governing bodies are searching for ways to mitigate the broadband access conundrum and are looking to find ways to hook up more people and more communities such that all Canadians can share the benefits of the broadband bonanza. Similar initiatives are underway in other countries across the globe. The task of wiring the world seemed impossibly Herculean.
Technology, fortunately, does not stand still. Broadband, long a service associated with a need for a physical connection, is no longer constrained to the telephone network, the cable plant or a glass fibre. With the advent of the current generation of 3G wireless networks, broadband access can be delivered anywhere the mobile wireless network can reach – a footprint that touches 98% of Canadians and a significant proportion of the global population as well.
Importantly, this mode of broadband access can be made available quickly. Deploying a tower and ancillary connectivity resources can quickly serve an entire community in a space of weeks – installing a fibre network to offer service to a comparable service area is a task that would take years, if not decades.
Wireless networks will empower communities, in the developing world, of course, but also in the developed world. In many ways they are like the railways of the 19th century. Both facilities require extensive up-front investment. Both facilities rely on a primary axis, off of which community deployment is enabled. Communities that welcomed the railway saw enormous benefit over the ensuing decades, communities, by contrast, that eschewed the railway, were bypassed – the railway went elsewhere – those communities withered. Similarly, SeaBoard sees that communities that welcome wireless broadband will prosper too – and those that stand in the way, risk being bypassed, and, once bypassed they may well fare poorly in competition with communities that embrace their wireless broadband future