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February 24, 2009

Pactolus Exec Hails Nationwide Broadband Deployment Efforts

By Michelle Robart, TMCnet Editor

Pactolus Communications Software, the creators of the industry’s most widely-deployed SIP applications and service creation/delivery solutions, is at the forefront of developing new broadband telephony innovations.
The segment of the recently passed and signed $787 billion economic stimulus package dedicated to nationwide broadband deployment is likely to help companies like Pactolus in the long run. But what do broadband insiders, like Kenneth Osowski, vice president of marketing and product management at Pactolus, think about the stimulus package? Will it accomplish all it sets out to do, or is it just way too ambitious?
Optimistic about the broadband stimulus package, Osowski took some time to discuss the plan’s goals with Technology Marketing Corporation as he prepares for a more connected world.
TMCnet: As a telecommunications services technology supplier, what is Pactolus Communications (News - Alert) Software’s take on the recently passed and signed $787 billion economic stimulus package?
KO: Definitely a step in the right direction, the question is: Do all the steps collectively get us to a recovered economy?
TMCnet: Approximately $7.2 billion of that large sum is dedicated to nationwide broadband deployment. Do you think that will be enough to accelerate and widen broadband’s reach?
KO: Well at this point the individual states have created their own initiatives to tackle this problem and I am sure there is a lot of duplicated effort going on. So a push for a comprehensive broadband network mapping and a unified technology approach etc. should hasten the process.
TMCnet: Do you believe the stimulus package will achieve what it has set out to do?
KO: I am optimistic about it mainly because we have to do something quickly but the devil is in the details, and in spite of how long this bill is I can’t find too many concrete details on the broadband piece alone for example.
TMCnet: What do you think about the fact that there is still no system in place to track the reach of broadband deployments nationwide? How important is it to have a system in place?
KO: Well it has been estimated that 10 million households do not have broadband network access in the United States and there are initiatives in place to get a comprehensive broadband service mapping. This bill aims to deliver a mapping within two years. I think it is important to have the mapping but I know that other countries have already deployed networks that tackle this problem like Australia. So we need to look at these other case studies to see what were those projects original goals and how they were achieved, and of course at what cost.
TMCnet: How do you expect the broadband deployment section of the economic stimulus bill to affect telecommunications?
KO: I think that if anything it will serve to solicit the optimum technology approach. Unlike the national electrical grid and “public” telephone network build outs where private companies settled eventually on transmission and distribution approaches, the technology options for “rural broadband” deployment encompass a much wider variety of technologies. Even with the narrower choice of technology decisions needed to be made during the electricity and telephone network build out in the first half of the 20th century, controversy and lack of consensus lasted for decades. Probably the biggest first order technology parsing for broadband networks is the use of wireline versus wireless network technologies. The answer today still depends on which constituency you talk to. So hopefully this bill will help to drive consensus in the least. 
TMCnet: How do you think high-speed Internet connections will impact underserved communities as well as the nation as a whole?
KO: This is the statement you will see regarding more widespread broadband services: “Ubiquitous, high speed Internet has the capability to vastly improve healthcare, education, public safety, energy efficiency, and countless other aspects of modern life. There is no doubt that it will but this is a 10 – 20 year project.
TMCnet: The question of nationwide broadband Internet and how it will impact the economy is a passionately debated topic of discussion lately. Do you think the broadband stimulus will jump-start the country’s economy?
KO: Not in the near term since unlike the electricity and phone networks investments that were beneficial from the start, broadband facilities require that additional investments – such as computer equipment, software, personnel training etc. - have to be made by the private sector and local governments to derive a downstream economic benefit.
TMCnet: How important is it for rural communities to have high-speed Internet?
KO: As life changing as it can be, we should focus on hospitals, schools, and libraries etc. first to derive the biggest initial benefits.
TMCnet: Why should taxpayers fund broadband deployment to remote areas?
KO: Well there has never been a push for rural services without some government intervention. In fact the government passed the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to reach underserved populations with electricity. Local rural municipalities will continue to struggle to fund broadband initiatives without help.
TMCnet: Could the country’s dependence on the Internet end up hurting it in the end?
KO: Broadband Internet access is just another evolutionary step for us as a society. It facilitates access to information, communication, and commerce. It can accelerate learning as well as provide entertainment. If managed correctly it can only help us achieve economic growth and stability.

Michelle Robart is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Michelle's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michelle Robart

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