Reporting on Broadband Called
into Question"> Yet theyre still counted as broadband connections. Washington, D.C.-based Free Press believes broadband speeds should clock in at 1M bps (megabit per second). The FCC also counts broadband as being "available" in a particular area if just one subscriber in a zip code has broadband service."If you look under the hood, there are tons of gaps in that method of reporting," said Scott. "Were not saying theyre hiding how they did it. Were saying its not a good way to do it." JupiterResearch, meanwhile, puts broadband availability (200K bps or more) at between 80 and 85 percent of the population. "Just because one person in a zip code can get broadband doesnt mean everyone can," said Laszlo. "From a public policy perspective, that measurement should probably change." Free Press also ripped an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin as "wildly optimistic" in reporting progress in broadband access, when based on the 200K bps speeds. According to the FCC, the U.S. leads the world with a total of 37.9 million broadband subscribers, and growing at a rapid rate. "In the 10 years theyve been required to do these reports, theyve never been disappointed," said Laszlo. "But its pretty undeniable that broadband is growing healthily in the U.S. Im forced to agree with the FCC." JupiterResearch puts the number at closer to 36 million households and one in three of all U.S. households have broadband. However, the country ranks 16th in the number of subscribers per 100 residents and 16th in increasing penetration of broadband, Free Press points out. "Additionally, if you look at some of the world leaders in broadband, you cant even buy a connection as slow as 1M bps," said Scott. "Theyre at 10 or 20M bps at the same price we pay for 200K bps." "Does having more broadband make you a better, more competitive country?" asks Laszlo. "Probably not, but I do think the FCC view is a bit out of line for how we stack up against the rest of the world." Instead, the U.S. can look to leading countries like Japan and South Korea to determine how to shape their regulatory practices. Click here to read about how the FCC chairman recently vowed to make broadband a top priority. The recent moves towards deregulation are in fact in exact opposition to how most leading nations have tackled the expansion of broadband access, chiefly by requiring phone companies to share their DSL lines with competitors. "Some of the decisions the FCC is making may prove problematic for continuing broadbands growth," said Laszlo. In fact, on a recent post on deregulation to his blog , he said he may consider revising JupiterResearchs broadband forecast69 million subscribers by 2010down based on the moves. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.
By that count, 99 percent of all U.S. residents have broadband available to them.