USA Falling Behind in Broadband Connectivity

Federal Communications Commission member Michael J. Copps contends, in an opinion piece appearing in the Washington Post, that the USA is falling behind other nations in the adoption and coverage of broadband connectivity.

Copps is absolutely right. For all the talk of broadband, the technology is far from pervasive among consumers or businesses in the United States. Other nations have greater levels of broadband penetration, and they generally pay less for greater levels of bandwidth.

What’s the problem? Copps says it’s lack of broadband competition, and he’s right again.

How have we fallen so far behind? Through lack of competition. As the Congressional Research Service puts it, U.S. consumers face a "cable and telephone broadband duopoly." And that’s more like a best-case scenario: Many households are hostage to a single broadband provider, and nearly one-tenth have no broadband provider at all.

For businesses, it’s just as bad. The telecom merger spree has left many office buildings with a single provider — leading to annual estimated overcharges of $8 billion. Our broadband infrastructure should be a reason companies want to do business in the United States, not just another reason to go offshore.

While Copps doesn’t claim to have "all the answers," he says the FCC must "start working to lower prices and introduce competition." He also proposes the following:

We must start meeting our legislative mandate to get advanced telecommunications out to all Americans at reasonable prices; make new licensed and unlicensed spectrum available; authorize "smart radios" that use spectrum more efficiently; and do a better job of encouraging "third pipe" technologies such as wireless and broadband over power lines. And we should recommend steps to Congress to ensure the FCC’s ability to implement long-term solutions.

Those are laudable proposals, especially the ideas of adding unlicensed spectrum (preferably at much higher bandwidths than today’s WiFi) and making it possible for utilities and others to compete with proven broadband-over-power-line technology.

2 responses to “USA Falling Behind in Broadband Connectivity

  1. 2 years ago i quit my job to start doing business online. I soon realized I couldn’t earn enough without high speed… So I tried to get it, but to my chagrin, my only option was satellite or wireless…Too pricey! And the hassles of contracts and equipment. Bah! Rediculous!
    I have some understanding of the technology behind the internet…. people who have average to little to no tech savvy must get really confused by advertised claims of DSL availability through ISP’s formerly only offering dial up … The ISP’s are at the mercy of the existing infrastructure, which here where I live is owned by Verizon. Why do they advertise crap that is NOT available? THEY TOO are at the mercy of Verizon’s infrastructure/availability. (read: MONOPOLY) No doubt about it, when Earthlink, or any other ISP says it can offer high speed, it’s misleading the consumer (read: false advertising) . Web accelerators are being touted as high speed. Another lie! Naturally a crappy image file with few pixels will load faster than the full data of an image. Thanks for saving my time? by screwing up the graphics? That’s a help to me?!
    Meanwhile, others who live near me get DSL directly through Verizon (the ONLY phone provider) or broadband through Prolog (the ONLY cable provider). My rural location has NO infrastructure in place whatsoever, tho I’m only a mile away from locations having access… it simply does not financially behoove the company to expand my way. And the techies I talked to at Verizon and cable company agree it makes no sense, or their trained to deal with specific technical questions coming to them from the “fringe”
    I’ve been on the Verizon DSL waiting list for 2 years. I can’t spend the kind of time on line that I’d need to in order to make a living. Voila, I’m out of business. If I want cable or DSL high speed, I have to relocate. Period.
    Thank you for nothing but patronizing waiting lists, Verizon and Prolog. Thanks for NOTHING, FCC.
    If this isn’t a monopoly, I don’t know what is! And it’s not going away. This has been a boo hoo wah wah for years… I mean, come on… this article isn’t just old news, it’s practially plagiarism. I was back on my slow dial up connection, surfing for some sympathy and here’s a link I found today,
    http://freepress.net/docs/broadband_report.pdf
    Then I called Verizon again… for the umpteenth time in 2 years, they finally put me through to someone in tech support. I asked him “Please say it. Just tell me, “I’m sorry Ms. Walker, you are beating a dead horse.” ” I need to know where I stand so I can make decisions based on the knowledge that I’m never getting DSL unless I move to another home. It would have been nice to be armed with the truth 2 years ago…
    I’m angry and this evening I’m back at it, surfing slloooowwwwlllyyyy and looking for validation from others who can relate. There’s got to be enough of us to form some type of grass roots organization that can take on this MESS. Seems to me we’re few and far between, perhaps thought of as country mice by the companies who disregard our plight. But we’re not morons. And I’d bet there’s a million of us frustrated with the “slow lane” and missed opportunities that ensue all over the USA. I know I for one am poorer today than I had planned on being because of this. I know the USA is somewhere akin to a third world nation in it’s health care coverage… but Internet access? We’re a joke. Is there a psychological term for having little to no self awareness? That term applies to this nation.
    So seeing that someone is published in the Washington Post giving a nod in the direction of this situation does NOT impress me. This guy just regurgitated the same information from a year ago, and probably the year before that.

    But I do understand Mr. Copps… just thinking about all of it, I regurgitate too.

  2. America’s quickly becoming a 3rd world state.

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