Generally speaking, providers of broadband Internet access consider the local telco and local cable company the primary competitor.
That is likely true for satellite broadband providers, fixed wireless and even mobile service providers.
Though it is hard to see any fundamental reasons why that view would change in the future, major mobile service providers will likely be emerging as competitors as well, especially if firms such as AT&T get deregulatory relief related to maintaining the legacy Time Division Multiplex network, including the ability to substitute mobile access as a substitute for a fixed connection.
Separately, AT&T (News - Alert) has escalated its investment plans aimed at replacing most all-copper access networks with fiber-reinforced IP networks. But not all customers likely can be economically reached using that approach.
At the same time, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless alike have made efforts over the past decade to position mobile service as a formal substitute for fixed network service. Although that effort has in the past largely focused on voice services, broadband services now are coming into play as well.
AT&T is offering, and plans to extend, a way to use the mobile network as a direct replacement for a landline connection, for example.
And Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) has made known its own thinking that in many rural areas, the fourth generation Long Term Evolution Network will be an alternative to extending new fixed network fiber lines.
Up to this point, Verizon Wireless has been most proactive about using mobile facilities as a replacement for fixed network voice.
Over time, though, LTE is expected to provide a reasonable substitute for fixed network broadband access, for some users, in some situations.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman