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Wherefore Art Thou, Broadband?

January 24, 2006 - 2 Comments

With apologies to Billy Shakespeare…what’s going on with the goal of making the US #1 in the world in broadband penetration? It was on June 24, 2004 that President Bush reiterated his national goal of making broadband available to all Americans by 2007 and added an additional goal of making America #1 in broadband penetration in the world, up from its current #10 international ranking (at the time)…we are currently #16. The FCC, under the able leadership of Chairman Kevin Martin (a fellow North Carolinian and it is rumored a possible future candidate for Governor of the state of my birth), has done a lot with respect to the treatment of communications services, but it is unclear to me what is being done to meet the President’s goals. I may be talking out of school here (please, please read the disclaimer on this page) and admittedly tracking broadband in the U.S. is not my #1 (or #30th) job, but in my gut check of gut checks there just doesn’t seem too be much energy around this issue. Broadband has been proven to add to productivity as well as contribute to quality of life (education, healthcare, etc.), so I just thought I’d give a shout out to those more immersed than I and see what people are hearing on the focus of broadband in the U.S. Penetration in the U.S. IS growing by the way, under the current measurements. (See previous blog entry on the definition of broadband…current FCC definition is still 200Kpbs).

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  1. 'Wherefore' means 'why', not 'where' :)

  2. The 200 kbps definition of broadband has been way out of date for some time now. To their credit, Chairman Martin and the other FCC Commissioners have indicated that they would like to create a more useful definition going forward. One way to do this would be to look at the different attributes of broadband: always on and higher speeds. So perhaps we could measure how many have always on"" access at any speed and then divide them by speed categories. I would suggest three initial categories: less than 1 Mbps, 1-5 Mbps, and greater than 5 Mbps. Using this metric would better measure the quantity AND quality of broadband but would not reduce the overall penetration number, which would be politically difficult to do."