Daily Archives: 24 June, 2010
Broadband is commonly seen as the fourth utility, meaning it is as important to economic development as the other three: electricity, water and telephone services. As such, the federal government is unwilling to leave its development to profit-driven chance. Its efforts to drive broadband in the U.S. forward are hailed by some and vilified by others. U.S. broadband providers have gotten away with shoddy speeds and restricted access because Americans consumers are pretty clueless about what they’re actually buying. A whopping 80 percent of broadband users in the United States do not know the speed of their own broadband connection, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) survey found. It’s no surprise, then, that the nation is stupidly happy with the suckiest broadband speeds on the planet. Even many third-worlders are rocking rich media faster than the richest American household. “While Europe and Japan have Fiber to the X (FTTX) services, we have not rolled out much here in the U.S. at this time,” Asif Hazarika, senior director of product management at IP Infusion, told TechNewsWorld. “The issue that we see is that the U.S. has a great deal of legacy deployment and thus, to match the speeds with GPON or EPON, the cost is much higher.” Mobile broadband, says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, is a quick fix to this dilemma — but the U.S. is dead-weight, if not dead-last, in mobile broadband too. “The U.S. is definitely behind the rest of the world in mobile broadband access, both from pricing and access speeds,” explained Hazarika. Genachowski insists that 4G mobile broadband is the best way to “drive innovation, to drive broadband’s success, and to drive competition in broadband” prices and accessibility. But is mobile broadband a true fix or just a patch for the American “best country in the world” psyche? Raw Rubs Typically, Americans look at broadband speeds only long enough to select a monthly payment amount they will be paying to a provider year after year. Often, the monthly fee is significantly higher than fees for faster broadband speeds in other countries. American wallets are then further plundered by variations in the speed they purchased. Some are due to legitimate impediments to the technology; others are more a matter of profit enhancements. In any case, Americans rarely receive the broadband speeds they pay for. “Due to average revenue per user and profitability issues in the last few years seen by the carriers, they have not spent a lot of capital expenditure to upgrade their networks,” noted Hazarika. To combat this problem, the FCC is planning on measuring actual broadband speeds delivered to consumers and comparing them to the speeds that broadband providers advertise. “Speed matters,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “The more broadband subscribers know about what speeds they need and what speeds they get, the more they can make the market work and push faster speeds over broadband networks.” There is more than potential false advertising and consumer fraud at issue here. The U.S. cannot compete for jobs without a strong broadband infrastructure. This makes the poor broadband performance in this country more than sucky — it makes it a huge economic drain. The U.S. places 17th in a ranking of 154 countries commissioned by the United Nations, “Measuring the Information Society — the ICT Development Index.” The report attributes the U.S.’ continuing plummet to stagnation. By comparison, other countries have continued to improve speeds, access and related technologies. Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands and Iceland were the top five in overall ranking.