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TPI Releases Video of Fireside Keynote on Digital Infrastructure

TPI Releases Video of Fireside Keynote on Digital Infrastructure

DigitalBridge CEO Marc Ganzi Discusses Future of Broadband

ASPEN—At the Technology Policy Institute’s annual Aspen Forum, the premier tech policy conference in the U.S., Marc Ganzi, CEO of DigitalBridge, joined TPI President Scott Wallsten for a fireside keynote on a wide range of topics related to digital infrastructure. DigitalBridge is involved in every aspect of broadband infrastructure, owning about 368,000 miles of fiber in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands of cellular towers worldwide.

Wallsten and Ganzi discussed the historic subsidies allocated for broadband, changes in network architecture and infrastructure, competition in the market, workforce development, regulations, and more.

Here are some key quotes from Ganzi from the discussion:

Some of our fiber infrastructures now is coming up on 23 to 25 years old. Believe it or not, fiber does have a, a finite life to it. … it does because physically it’s glass and it ultimately ages and the casing that’s on the outside of it sometimes ages as well. You get cuts, you get acts of God, you get, you know s**t happens, you know, it’s … a living breathing network. And some of the infrastructure that was put in place, some of the long-haul infrastructure that’s really vital to our economy was put in place in the 90s and early 2000s.”

“[A] lot of municipalities are going out and they’re overlaying and building broadband infrastructure and saying, we want to control our pipes just like we control our sewage, just like we control electrical transmission. … It is a problem. We are competing for the same subcontractors. I think when municipalities actually own this infrastructure and they find out how actually hard it is to run it, they’re probably gonna put out RFPs to do private-public partnerships where we’re gonna have to come over and run the infrastructure. We’ve already seen that happen … I don’t think municipalities should be in the business of, of laying fiber for the sake of just laying fiber. I think that’s a bit misguided. Where municipalities need to help U.S. is in permitting and helping U.S. plan and ultimately accelerate the process of building out fiber infrastructure, small cell infrastructure, and ultimately where we’re gonna put edge compute locations.”

“I’d say the biggest challenge in Europe today is around data sovereignty and around power. You can’t provision enough power fast enough to keep up with the web scalers. … So the demand is vastly outpacing the total amount of power availability in Europe, particularly in the … big cities. So Europe has a power issue. It’s not going away anytime soon. It’s probably gonna get worse before it gets better.”

Our best employees are ex-military, by far, in operations—so people that maintain the infrastructure, people that build the infrastructure. Why? their profile is suited for that; they’re mission capable. They understand duty, they show up on time, they work hard. These are things that seem to have escaped the American workforce recently. So I like people that want to go to work and want to get the mission done. And so we’ve screened 50,000 veterans. We put 2,000 veterans to work. We could probably put 20,000 veterans to work in the telecommunications industry, just on the front lines of building that infrastructure.”

You can read a full transcript of the fireside chat here and see the full video here. In addition, see below a live illustration created during the panel by Karina Branson, a graphic recorder and proprietor of ConverSketch. Her sketches of every session are part of what makes the Aspen Forum such a unique experience for attendees.

TPI scholars cover a wide range of issues, including broadband. See our work on broadband policy here. We are available for comment and interviews at [email protected].

Subscribe to our podcast, Two Think Minimum, for the perfect dose of tech policy expertise for your morning commute. Recently, the podcast was honored by FedTech Magazine in its list of “30 Federal IT Influencers Worth a Follow in 2022.”

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