BA Chief: Broadband Deployment Biggest Challenge

The influx of broadband will change how all users approach the Internet,
transforming our online existence into a kind of “e-life,” according to Bell Atlantic Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who addressed the topic in a
Thursday morning Internet World keynote address.

“We know that people using ‘always on’ broadband devices use the Internet
differently than dial up users,” he said. “Broadband is changing the nature
of the information, entertainment and communications content that travels
over the Internet.”

Growth will push the envelope even farther. Seidenberg said that we stand at
the brink of one of the most creative eras in American business history.
Innovations like standard Internet connections, broadband, and cellular
phones are now only available to portions of the world’s population. Things
will change when the numbers increase.

“Today, 65 percent of American teenagers are online,” he said. “They are
growing up with the assumption that information is everywhere and the
customer is king. What will they expect from us in ten years?” And how will
broadband change the fabric of society when it reaches 50 percent a few
years from now?”

Seidenberg outlined the difference between Internet World the trade show and
what he called the “real” Internet World: How online opportunities are
changing the lives of people throughout the planet.

“The real Internet World is more than the sum of all the separate activities
conducted on the Net,” he said. “Everything we see and talk about today is
just a step along the path toward a completely different way of interacting
with our customers, our family and our world.”

Seidenberg predicted that broadband will change the nature of the
information entertainment and communications content that travels over the

“What for many businesses starts as throwing up a Web site soon morphs into a complete rethinking of how business is done,” he said. “The potential for
quantum leaps forward in productivity and efficiency has scarcely been

Heidelberg’s prepared speech wasn’t quite long enough to fit the allotted
time, so he took several contentious, amusing and rambling questions from
the audience. One former Bell Atlantic employee criticized the company’s
sales structure, saying that many agency relationships need a lot of work.
Seidenberg pointed out that “anytime you have a new industry you need to
find different methods of distribution.” Another questioner, a local
community activist, received boos from the crowd for long-windedness, but
Seidenberg hooked him up with a salesperson after saying “we can provide the
connectivity that lowers the barriers to entry so others can provide the
services. People need to be willing to try new things.”

In the answer to another question, Seidenberg said that government
restrictions prevent Bell Atlantic from providing adequate broadband service
to rural areas.

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