Cable Companies Oppose FCC Vote to Adopt Advanced Broadband

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-02-02 Print this article Print
Broadband Speed

"In reality, these hypotheticals dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user," Brill said in his statement to the FCC.

Brill, it would appear, is ignoring the marketing material provided by his association's own membership, which routinely recommend the 25M-bps download speed in places where multiple users are watching large amounts of video and performing backups. Brill also noted that at this point, the FCC's definition of broadband has no regulatory basis beyond the definition in the Broadband Progress Report.

But as is frequently the case in Washington, there's even more to it than that. "There is a large, and unacceptable, disparity in broadband access between urban Americans and Americans in rural areas and Tribal lands," Wheeler said in his report.

To many people, very likely including the NCTA, which didn't address this issue in its response, people in rural areas are commonly thought of as being part of "flyover country" and as a result don't really matter.

But in reality, a substantial number of small and medium-size businesses operate in those areas. Those businesses include farms as you'd expect, but they also include factories and offices and retail businesses. These businesses share the same lack of service or access to low-grade service as consumers in those same rural areas, who are dismissed by the cable companies as being too far apart and too few to deserve service.

Part of the FCC's broadband initiative is to bring a reasonable level of broadband service to rural, tribal and other users who currently don't have it. And while there are plenty of references in the responses to the FCC's new definition to service in urban areas, it's worth noting that in most cities, those urban areas only include upscale urban areas.

Frequently, poor and working-class neighborhoods are last to get anything like what most of us think of as broadband, unless you include those dreadfully slow, but still expensive DSL lines that are unaccountably still being pushed on far too many users.

I know how these numbers work out from personal experience. One of my business locations is in a working-class rural area, where DSL is the standard and even 25M-bps broadband is expensive—and not always available. In that general area are hundreds of small and some not-so-small businesses that have trouble competing because of lack of adequate access.

Right now, according to statistics released by Wheeler in his statement, one in six potential users in the U.S. doesn't have access to 25M-bps broadband. Of those who have access, relatively few of them have more than one choice of broadband supplier. Perhaps the FCC can accomplish what the industry has failed to accomplish and provide at least the potential for real broadband access in the U.S.



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