This spring, the President’s Forum, a joint program of the Office of the President and the Innovation and Leadership Institute, will bring three distinguished speakers to campus to share their insights on innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.
On Wednesday, March 3, 2010, Capitol welcomed the first of the spring semester’s speakers, Kevin McGuire, vice president of business and technology at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association. McGuire focused his presentation on the history and future of rural telephony in the United States, including the next technologies having to do with voice, video, and data.
According to McGuire, the history of the telephone is as important as the current marketplace; ten years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, his patent expired, allowing thousands of small, local telephone companies to spring up before 1900. This “mom and pop” style of business has grown into the monstrosity that is telecommunications today, but with a twist – most people have gone cellular.
“We have more cellular lines in the U.S. than we have ever had with access lines,” says McGuire. “Eighty percent of children ages 11 through 22 have a cell phone. This is kind of scary, since out of the 80 percent, 76 percent are getting their phone from a national company, not a local company.”
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is a nonprofit association that represents these small and rural telephone cooperatives and commercial companies that are struggling to stay on their feet amidst modern phone companies like Verizon.
Cable and VoIP, says McGuire, are the future of telecommunications, and it’s what the small local companies will need to focus on if they want to stay competitive. The proof is in the population; although the U.S. is ranked 15 in the world in broadband use, the country ranks number one in number of subscribers per population.
Things like advanced video capabilities for work-from-home options, IPTV, and UHDTV “won’t be ready by tomorrow,” says McGuire, “but they are in our future. It will be great for consumers, but as you can see, it will be difficult for telephone companies as they struggle to stay in business.”