"(The) ruling will inadvertently serve as a boon for wireless broadband providers," Jeff Thompson, president of TowerStream, said in an e-mail interview. "Cable companies can move forward and invest in their current networks and ISPs can start looking for true alternatives not controlled by competitors, such as WiMAX."
The ruling likely will mean that cable companies, freed from worrying about competitors using their infrastructure, will be less inclined to innovate, Thompson said. When that happens, "customers are naturally going to seek out alternatives," he said. Such an alternative will be WiMAX, he predicted.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 forced telecom operators such as the regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs) to give competitors to their network infrastructure. The purpose of the law was to spur competition, although the Federal Communications Commission recently eliminated many of the provisions of that law. Monday's court decision means that the cable industry won't be forced to open its networks to competitors.
TowerStream currently offers enterprise-class WiMAX service in six U.S. cities, although a spokesman for the company said that it eventually could offer service to consumers. Thompson acknowledged his company -- and its competitors -- will benefit from the court's decision. He called wireless broadband the "third pipe," comparing it to phone line-based broadband and cable.