Did the U.S. Get it Right or Wrong on Broadband Communications? VZ says YES, this author says NO!!!

A NY Times op-ed by Verizon Chairman Lowell C. McAdam titled “How the U.S. Got Broadband Right” is yet another specious argument in favor of the existing loosely regulated monopoly system of Internet service.       


The editorial states:  “More than 80 percent of American households live in areas that offer access to broadband networks capable of delivering data with speeds in excess of 100 megabits per second. Almost everyone in the country has several competitive choices for high-speed broadband service (with wireline, satellite and wireless options). Verizon offers 14.7 million consumers, in parts of 12 states and the District of Columbia, speeds up to 300 megabits per second via our FiOS network, which is poised to provide even greater speeds in the future. Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are also investing in their infrastructure.”

That’s an outright lie!  In Santa Clara, CA- the heart of Silicon Valley- I have only 2 choices for broadband- AT&T and Comcast Xfinity.  I chose AT&T U-Verse which gets me 12M b/sec downstream.  Comcast Xfinity offers ~50M b/sec here.  In rural CA areas there is often no wireless broadband at all and only one provider- Comcast Xfinity!

Where does the U.S. rank on the list of the top 10 countries or regions with the fastest internet? Nowhere!

Here are the top 10 countries with fastest broadband access:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. South Korea
  3. Japan
  4. Latvia
  5. Romania
  6. Belgium
  7. Switzerland
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Israel
  10.  Singapore


Also see:  http://www.broadbandmap.gov/blog/

From a letter to the editor in Sat June 29th NY TImes:

“In fact, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), America trails most developed nations in providing broadband, despite Lowell C. McAdam’s assertion that Europe’s regulatory regime “limits investment and innovation.”       

When will we wake up and recognize that a new economy dependent on broadband infrastructure is key to our success, indeed survival, in the world? Broadband is a public service that every individual and organization should have, and the United States needs to regulate this service as a public utility, not leave it to the so-called free marketplace.”       

San Diego, June 21, 2013       

The writer, a professor of communications and public policy at San Diego State University, is a former legal assistant to the Federal Communications Commission chairman (1970-73) and director of the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy (1974-76).    

Addendum:  Broadband penetration higher in countries with national rollout strategy

Partnerships between government and industry are driving progress, says ITU:

Countries with a coordinated national strategy for rolling out broadband are making significantly faster progress than those taking a more laissez-faire approach to broadband development, according to a new report.

The research, conducted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), together with the Broadband Commission for Digital Development and Cisco, indicates that countries with a national broadband plan have fixed broadband penetration some 8.7 percent higher on average than countries without plans.

Once the potential impact of factors like higher average income per capita, market concentration and urbanisation are discounted, countries with plans benefit from fixed broadband penetration on average 2.5 percent higher than countries without plans, according to the report.

In mobile, the impact is almost as significant. Countries with national broadband plans have mobile broadband penetration some 7.4 percent higher on average than countries without plans.  The report also acknowledges the role of market competition in boosting uptake. Broadband penetration in competitive markets is 1.4 percent higher on average for fixed broadband and up to 26.5 percent higher on average for mobile broadband.

“The Broadband Commission’s message about the power of broadband to transform each and every economic sector is now gaining global traction,” said ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Toure.