Shifting form a circuit to packet world


The paper examines trends emerging in the telecommunications industry by considering the business and network strategies of a new breed of entrants such as Qwest and Level 3’s referred to as bandwidth carriers and considers the assumptions made by bandwidth carriers and the likely implications on the delivery of services. A perspective to the present environment is provided by drawing from the introduction of telephony in the United States and the following early competitive period. The paper identifies key traits shared by early telephony and digital communication and draws lessons useful to understanding present and future developments. The incentives of carriers to vertically integrate during both periods is considered and its likely impact on availability of interconnection. The paper will argue that bandwidth carriers are likely to fundamentally shift the bandwidth sector’s cost and market structure. Whether this will result in growth for new bandwidth carriers or periods of destructive competition will depend on the extent to which they will reach users the growth and success of new access providers and the ability to forge partnerships with existing access carriers and ISPs.

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