Metcalfe Places Broadband Bets
Never exactly the shy type, Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet creator and partner at Polaris Venture Partners, sounds off about broadband access in the latest LRTV interview.
Given the plethora of access technologies vying for attention, Metcalfe wastes no time picking his least favorite. "I'm rooting for the cable companies against the ILECs," he says. "That's just because I have this long-term grudge with the ILEC monopolies."
It's a recurring theme for Metcalfe, who preaches the benefits of competition -- noting that competitive pressure is the only reason RBOCs offer Ethernet services -- and views suspiciously anything resembling the old Ma Bell structure.
"I'm not an expert on regulation but I'm pretty sure allowing AT&T to re-form -- allowing all the RBOCs to buy each other and re-form -- is probably a really bad idea. I don't know how we're letting that happen."
Of course, Metcalfe wouldn't be a venture capitalist if he didn't think there was some hope out there. He declares himself a "big fan" of VOIP providers Skype Technologies SA and Vonage Holdings Corp.. "At the very least they lit a fire under the existing monopolies," he says.
WiMax could be the salvation of broadband, Metcalfe adds, not for its inherent coolness but because it would upset the status quo enough to squeeze progress out of telephone, cable, and wireless operators.
"The mobile guys will be attacked, the wireline LECs will be attacked, and the cable companies will be attacked by WiMax -- and I’m really looking forward to that," he says.
That's not to say Metcalfe is a fan of the ballyhooed Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) service that claims to outdo WLAN. He calls the service "a pitiful precursor" to WiMax and he has a point, considering the sneaky nature of "pre-WiMax" (read: not WiMax) implementations (see Intel's WiMax AntiClimax).
For more, including why Ethernet is as undying as Metcalfe's hatred of Harvard, see Full Transcript of LRTV's Interview With Bob Metcalfe, Inventor of Ethernet.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading