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To Save Telecom, We Need Radical Transparency

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The optimists claim 2029 as the year of universal broadband connectivity.  It’s easy to get wooed by that estimate when there’s a veritable infrastructure windfall to be had in both the private and public sectors. But the rosy picture quickly fades once you start digging.

The industry faces challenges in the near and long term: complexity, silos, scale, access, affordability, supplies, skilled labor. Just think about the quantity of fiber we need to connect the country. It’s an amazing amount. When you start to face the realities of the situation, universal connectivity looks more like 2034 than 2029.

Telecom as an industry - despite the demand and investment - is in trouble. The industry holds the lowest Net Promoter Score, a measure of customer experience and predicted growth, of 31. Stagnation and silos abound. Blame either. It doesn't change the fact that it's past time for us to reimagine what we do and how we do it. Enter radical transparency. 

Why radical transparency

It’s not enough to be transparent; we must be radically transparent as an industry. Get the right people at the table so we can piece together a more accurate, complete picture. Abandon our scarcity mentality for one of abundance. Build a safe environment for discussion and experimentation. Establish clear swim lanes so we can turn our competitors into collaborators. There’s plenty of work and money to go around. We need courage. We need change. We need radical transparency.

Broadband is just the beginning

Why? Because laying the networks is merely step one. A giant step but still just the first. 

The second step: devices. The family who can’t afford a $64 per month Internet bill likely can’t afford a laptop, let alone a laptop per family member. Have you ever tried to complete a job application or write a school paper on a smart phone? Thumbs are not endurance athletes. Text neck is no joke.

Once we get devices to the people who need them, we need to educate them in both digital literacy and hygiene. It’s going to take all of us—schools, telecom companies, government—working together for the common good, something bigger than ourselves.

The path to radical transparency and saving telecom begins here. Ready to join me?

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