Broadband Inequity — Engineering Won’t Solve the Problem | Hexvarium | Delivering Sustainable Broadband Networks

Broadband Inequity — Engineering Won’t Solve the Problem


December 12, 2022

Engineering Won’t Solve the Problem

By Gerry Lawlor, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Hexvarium

December 12, 2022

Broadband Inequity — Engineering Won’t Solve the Problem

The FCC’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report says that approximately 19 million Americans lack access to fixed broadband. Of course, the FCC’s definition of broadband is 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload, which is not nearly fast enough to properly support today’s streaming, videoconferencing and interactive gaming applications. By our own estimates, some 40 million American households lack access to the broadband bandwidth that would put them on an equal footing with the ‘broadband haves,’ and over $1 trillion in spending over the past 30 years hasn’t put much of a dent in this problem.

Typically, network builders look at this as a problem of engineering costs. They ask, “What does it cost to pass a property,” and then they total up the costs of running cable or fiber along with associated transmit and receive equipment, and measure that against likely take rates and ARPU. We think this kind of thinking puts the cart before the horse — people focus on the engineering aspect of the problem and ignore more difficult questions like: “How do you win customers?” “How do you convince people with a marginal service that has a great user interface to switch to a much faster service that isn’t quite as slick-looking?” “What’s the short-term, mid-term and long-term business case?”

We have developed a holistic broadband assessment and planning methodology that looks at the social, competitive and physical aspects of the challenge, and maps out solutions that deliver networks that are sustainably profitable regardless of location. Naturally, it would be a lot easier for us if we could characterize all broadband ‘have-nots’ with just one overall analysis, but it doesn’t work that way. The fact is that the social, competitive and physical aspects of the challenge are likely different for each city, neighborhood, and even potentially for each street and household or business. That’s why our refinement process analyzes thousands of factors at a geographic granularity of 0.04 square miles.

Then we add go-to-market expertise. It’s a lot easier to convince someone getting 25Mbps downstream to switch to 300Mbps than it is to convince someone with 300Mbps downstream to switch to Gigabit service, but there’s a winnable business case for each of these customer types. In the tougher cases, it’s seldom a problem of engineering; it’s more a matter of solving softer issues like reluctance to change.

For example, we’re doing an analysis for an area in Utah that is 70% penetrated with 150–300 Mbps service from Comcast. Those customers probably aren’t pulling their hair out about the speed of their broadband service, so we are figuring out compelling arguments for them to switch to 1Gbps broadband and how tell that story in just the right way.

Solving broadband inequity is a very complex challenge. Hexvarium is the only provider whose analysis, planning, deployment and monitoring processes were designed to tackle that complexity

Was originally published on Medium.

About Hexvarium

Hexvarium is a broadband service provider using proprietary Data Science to accurately identify, deliver, and connect profitable networks across all geographies. Building sustainable broadband networks is a complex puzzle of continually changing factors. Yet all other designers, engineers and operators deploy capital using static, antiquated methods and knowledge of each community. Hexvarium’s approach delivers sustainable networks, even in the most challenging circumstances. For more information, please visit

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