Home > Uncategorized > Talk Big but Carry Little Funding

Talk Big but Carry Little Funding

March 27th, 2004

This country needs a national goal for broadband technology, for the spread of broadband technology. We ought to have a universal, affordable access for broadband technology by the year 2007, and then we ought to make sure as soon as possible thereafter, consumers have got plenty of choices when it comes to purchasing the broadband carrier. See, the more choices there are, the more the price will go down. And the more the price goes down, the more users there will be. And the more users there will be, the more likely it is America will stay on the competitive edge of world trade.

–President Bush, March 26, 2004, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Well, goodie for him. Three years after the DSL market started to stagnate, he finally gets around to saying that we need cheap, universal broadband. And his only comment on how? Make sure there are plenty of choices. And he later added, we must not tax access (which I’m sure lots of people would have suggested as a way to make broadband cheaper).

Well, problem solved.

Yeah, right. There are quite a few problems that need to be solved, and I don’t really see Bush solving any of them. Japan surged ahead with their “e-Japan” strategy, and now 40 Mbps DSL is available to a very large percent of the population here, with 100 Mbps fiber optic also available to many, and other options like vDSL on their way. This was accomplished at least in part by government action, subsidizing loans for the construction of broadband infrastructure to the tune of a few billion dollars, something Bush does not have us doing yet. American efforts are less orchestrated and more scattershot; a national plan has not yet been established. In Japan, the “e-Japan” initiative aims for universal access of 30- to 100 Mbps by 2005. And since the tech bubble collapse in 2000, the quality of broadband in the U.S. for most has actually fallen, with prices remaining high. It is also arguable as to whether what is provided to Americans today can be called “broadband.” The FCC defines that as a 200 kilobit connection. That’s about 1/100th of what in Japan today is considered low-end DSL. And penetration in Japan is deeper, too; in 2001, the U.S. had more broadband penetration than Japan by at least a factor of two, but in 2003, Japan swept past the U.S., with more than double the connections, and that trend has likely continued or even accelerated in 2004, with most ISPs offering 40 Mbps+ DSL.

And that’s not even getting into problems more pervasive in the U.S., including “last-mile” costs for rural areas, and regulation concerns. If the U.S. is going to get universal broadband, much less cheap broadband, any time soon, Bush will have to get up off his butt and actually do something, as opposed to just making stirring references in speeches to homeowners in New Mexico. But don’t count on it–in areas such as education (“No Child Left Behind”), space exploration (the Mars mission), and fighting AIDS in Africa, Bush has talked big but in fact delivered next to nothing. He is the champion of the unfunded mandate. Expect his action on broadband to be the same.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: by
  1. March 28th, 2004 at 12:13 | #1

    I can’t get anything but dialup (26.4 kb/s) where I live!

Comments are closed.