Wireless Broadband – Conflict and Convergence. Sounds interesting, I decided, so I got a copy, not the least also because I know the work of Vern Fotheringham's co-author, Chetan Sharma, which I find very interesting and I have quoted him in my recent book.
Everybody always says the telecommunications market in the US is different from the rest of the world and this book explains why. The authors first go a bit back in time to explain how the telecommunications act of 1996 was designed to introduce competition in the US telcom market. 12 years later, the authors contest an utter failure of the policy, with AT&T and the baby Bells back in control both of the fixed line telephony, DSL and wireless sectors with little hope for change on the horizon. It's very interesting to follow the twists and turns and to compare it to what happened in other countries in which similar regulation attempts have been undertaken, sometimes with more, sometimes with less success.
It's a bit of a shortcoming of the book that the authors have not undertaken this, since similar decisions have been taken elsewhere, often with more success due to fine tuning over the years or by using a different approach to regulation altogether. Also, in my opinion, the book is a bit too optimistic on the influence WiMAX will have on the overall competitive situation. In today's world, where it is not enough to be a powerful player in only a single country, even with 300 million people, I have my doubts if the single nationwide WiMAX provider in the US can really make a difference, with wireless devices not optimized for voice and produced only for a relatively small audience. While GSM and CDMA based networks in the US share the later problem, they still have a big advantage with their inherent voice capability. Well, time will tell.
So no matter if you live in the US or somewhere else and would like to know why the telecommunication sector in the US is what it is today and how it could potentially evolve in the future, this book is definitely for you!