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U.S. Lags in Broadband Access ~~ FCC Paints a Rosy Picture But America Ranks 16th Worldwide
ConsumerAffairs.com ^ | August 12, 2005 | staff

Posted on 08/18/2005 9:31:30 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

August 12, 2005
Despite a rosy picture painted by the Federal Communications Commission, America's access to affordable, high-speed Internet lags far behind the rest of the digital world.

Broadband Access
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A report released by Free Press, the Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union shows that a recent FCC assessment of broadband Internet access is misleading and glosses over serious problems behind an ever-widening digital divide.

"Despite claims to the contrary, the digital divide in America remains large and will continue to grow unless some real changes are made," said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. "By overstating broadband availability and portraying anti-competitive policies as good for consumers, the FCC is trying to erect a façade of success. But if the president's goal of universal, affordable high-speed Internet access by 2007 is to be achieved, policymakers in Washington must change course."

A July 2005 report from the FCC hailed recent progress in improving broadband access in the United States. But upon closer scrutiny, the claims made in the report — and a subsequent op-ed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin published in the Wall Street Journal — are, at best, wildly optimistic.

"Broadband Reality Check," a new report by Free Press research fellow S. Derek Turner, calls into question the FCC's conclusions. Among its findings:

• The FCC overstates broadband penetration rates. The FCC report considers a ZIP code covered by broadband service if just one person subscribes. No consideration is given to price, speed or availability of that connection throughout the area.

• The FCC misrepresents exactly how many connections are "high-speed." The FCC defines "high-speed" as 200 kilobits per second, barely enough to receive low-quality streaming video and far below what other countries consider to be a high-speed connection.

• The United States remains 16th in the world in broadband penetration per capita. The United States also ranks 16th in terms of broadband growth rates, suggesting our world ranking won't improve any time soon. On a per megabit basis, U.S. consumers pay 10 to 25 times more than broadband users in Japan.

• Despite FCC claims, digital divide persists and is growing wider. Broadband adoption is largely dependent on socio-economic status. In addition, broadband penetration in urban and suburban in areas is double that of rural areas.

• Reports of a broadband "price war" are misleading. Analysis of "low-priced" introductory offers by companies like SBC and Comcast reveal them to be little more than bait-and-switch gimmicks.

• The FCC ignores the lack of competition in the broadband market. Cable and DSL providers control almost 98 percent of the residential and small-business broadband market. Yet the FCC recently eliminated "open access" requirements for DSL companies to lease their lines, rules that fostered the only true competition in the broadband market.

"The FCC is trying to put the best face on this problem it can, but the people who can't afford or don't have access to high-speed Internet know the truth," said Mark Cooper, research director of the Consumer Federation of America. "Affordable high-speed Internet means stronger economic growth, more educational opportunities and exposure to diverse points of view. If the FCC continues to ignore reality, the gap between the haves and have-nots will become too wide to bridge."

The three groups call on Congress to take notice of these alarming trends and enact clear policies that will free the broadband market from domination by a handful of large cable and telecommunications companies.

Their recommendations include ensuring open access to all high-speed communications networks, removing restrictions on public entities that seek to offer broadband services to consumers, and opening up more of the broadcast spectrum for wireless Internet applications.

"Fudging the facts won't provide high-speed Internet access to those who need it most," said Jeannine Kenney, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union. "If the FCC is content to let cable and phone companies control the broadband market, then consumers need a third option — wireless broadband that is less expensive and which doesn't depend on DSL or cable modems. It offers the best and perhaps now the only way to close the digital divide."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: broadband; internet
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1 posted on 08/18/2005 9:31:35 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: ShadowAce; N3WBI3

fyi


2 posted on 08/18/2005 9:33:01 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Analysis of "low-priced" introductory offers by companies like SBC and Comcast reveal them to be little more than bait-and-switch gimmicks.

I have to agree. BellSouth inundates us with promises of low prices, but after the first three months, watch out. And who wants a boat anchor of TV channels you don't give a crap about, ala Comcast?

3 posted on 08/18/2005 9:41:09 AM PDT by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population. Have them spayed or neutered. )
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Virtually all of SD has broadband, so I find it amazing that it isn't available everywhere, seeing as how we're such a backwater. I've had broadband since 1997.


4 posted on 08/18/2005 9:43:06 AM PDT by SoDak
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

"Despite claims to the contrary, the digital divide in America remains large and will continue to grow unless some real changes are made,"

The digital divide.......is this crises back in vogue?


5 posted on 08/18/2005 9:45:42 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple (Seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: SoDak

Some utilities just should be public. That simple. It does not pay for cell phone and broadband providers to provide adequate coverage. The countries who have better service than we do don't have five competing providers. They have monopolies like our phone system once was.


6 posted on 08/18/2005 9:48:54 AM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over TWO YEARS now)
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To: SoDak
It is all just hype if you ask me.

They seem to be playing with relative sizes of national states.

We could find an area comparable to N. Korea and find that its access is about the same. Conversely, if we took Europe as a whole we would find laggards.

This mostly comes from the people that want government subsidies for this sort of thing.

It would be interesting to see the real facts behind all of these "studies."

I know that throughout almost all of NYC (excluding Staten Island.) that is is generally possible to get 3mbs/740 dsl for around $40 a month (it would be cheaper except for all the taxes.)

That is fairly impressive.

I really wonder about these studies when I read them. I travel overseas frequently and I never really see anything overseas that is any different from here.

But the main point is markets: is there a need for that sort of thing.

7 posted on 08/18/2005 9:50:40 AM PDT by CasearianDaoist
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To: SoDak

Ive got broadband too and I'm out in the sticks. As far as I can tell that most people overseas don't have internet access at all.


8 posted on 08/18/2005 9:51:00 AM PDT by cripplecreek (If you must obey your party, may your chains rest lightly upon your shoulders.)
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To: cripplecreek
Have a look at the "Masthead" for Free Press.

Look at the Board members. This will tell you every thing you need to know.

9 posted on 08/18/2005 10:01:59 AM PDT by CasearianDaoist
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To: mercy

There's plenty of broadband competition where I am, meaning I pay $28 a month for a cable-modem setup, as opposed to the $60 a month in the late 90's. I love competition.


10 posted on 08/18/2005 10:02:01 AM PDT by SoDak
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Simple solution, lower the cost of BB. Being stuck with just one BB provider in my area, I refuse to pay 50 bucks a month for it versus $20.00 for dial up.


11 posted on 08/18/2005 10:06:03 AM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

American broadband is laughable. Meanwhile, norway gets 100mbit internet, while we slog around at 3-5


12 posted on 08/18/2005 10:11:27 AM PDT by Crazieman (6-23-2005, Establishment of the United Socialist States of America)
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To: SoDak

Meanwhile millions of americans cannot get broadband at any price and never will given the present model. 28$ is too cheap. We all should be willing to pay a little more so broadband could be universal. It would be well worth it.


13 posted on 08/18/2005 10:20:54 AM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over TWO YEARS now)
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To: mercy

$28 is the fair market value. Therefore, it is not too cheap. I'm not much for the "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" philosophy.


14 posted on 08/18/2005 11:52:47 AM PDT by SoDak
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To: CasearianDaoist
Looks, pretty Left leaning alright....even a Union person ....

Linda Foley, Washington DC, is the President of The Newspaper Guild/CWA, and is a Vice President of the Communications Workers of America. She was the first woman in the 60-plus year history of the 34,000-member Guild to hold the office. She is Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees and is on the Executive Board of the American Arbitration Association. She is also Vice President of the International Federation of Journalists. Before joining the union’s staff in 1984, Foley was a copy editor and reporter at the Lexington, KY, Herald-Leader. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, her alma mater.

15 posted on 08/18/2005 12:13:38 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: SoDak

Yeah yeah yeah.

I'm as much a capitalist as you but in the case of public utilities pure capitalism falls flat on its face because it's a rigged system.

We're all being robbed for telephone service, cell service and in the case of broadband .... some are getting a great deal and many are getting nothing.

The only reason rural America has electrical power was and still is, because of co-ops. Private industry failed to electrify rural America. Co-ops are non profit organizations. In certain instances they work.

Right now we are seeing the greatest failure of the capitalist model in history. Oil. When the price of gas goes to $5 even you will understand. Why should our money go to fund all those advertisements for oil companies we see on TV when it all the same exact sh*t? Oil should belong collectively to the people of the country it is pumped from. It should be distributed to the world by private companies making a profit on their transportation and distribution of the product. Like trucking companies. The price should be set given its actual value ... not dirven out of all bounds by speculation as it is now and much of the profits going to fund terrorism.

Capitalism works in honest societies. Right now we have a ripoff society. Whatever you can steal.

Back to broadband. The Broadband licenses should have been distributed on the basis that you had to cover rural areas as well. As the phone companies were forced to do. But some sweetheart deals got cut with a lot of crooked politicians pocketing a lot of cash ... and a lot of us got screwed.

Even though you think utilities business are private profit driven companies they are not. They are publicly regulated profit making machines for politicians and shareholders. Screw the public.


16 posted on 08/18/2005 12:23:53 PM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over TWO YEARS now)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I saw some contributions to The Nation in there too.

Let the market drive broadband.

Internet2 is humming away at 19gig on the backbone. I expect that we will see 24mbs on landlines in the urban markets in the next 5 years. I do not know enough about leading edge wireless to make a meaningful prediction, but you can get 700kbs right now in the metro markets.

Again, I really wonder about these studies as they make no real sense to me. I still say it is a combination of trying to portray the bush administration as some sort of retrograde force for the nation, and a desire to sock the taxpayer for some bucks.

In the early part of the Clinton Administration they tried this with the "information highway" nonsense.

The truth is that the private investor got bilked into paying for this, and a great many investors lost their shirts over this one.

Liberals cannot seem to put forth any idea without first trying to create a crisis and/or finding a "villain" or too.

Right now we are seeing the socialist in the EU really pushing GRID Computing. They think that competeively they "missed" the internet the last time around. They want to actually pay companies to use publiclly contrcuted GRID. The science genuises at Brussels have decided that this is "the next big thing." How are these con clusions reached? What if they are wrong? (Comically,it is american tech firms that are getting all the bucks and reaping the rewards of all the research.)

Look a the fiasco g3 was to the European telecoms (and new wireless tech like EVO is making that obsolete.

You know, the state of Iowa spent million hoking up all their public libraries a while ago, now of course there is cheap DSL all over the place.

Government planning rarely works.

It is particularly comic when we are talking about the Internet, for no one ever omagined that it would take off like it has (well ohre than a few visionaries like Alan Kay.)

It would certainly be dishonest of government types to claim otherwise.

You know, DARPA and Co. is undertaking a complete redesign of TCP/IP to accommodate mobile "self-organizing" networks.

I would not be surprised to see the whole concept of the Internet as we know it to be obsolete in another 15 years.

17 posted on 08/18/2005 12:42:17 PM PDT by CasearianDaoist
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To: mercy

SD has less than 3 people per square mile. How is it we got covered so fast and so well?


18 posted on 08/18/2005 12:52:17 PM PDT by SoDak
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To: SoDak

I don't know buy I'd sure like to. Please find out and tell us.


19 posted on 08/18/2005 12:55:55 PM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over TWO YEARS now)
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To: SoDak

I just can't leave this alone. ;^}

Pisses me off so much cause I hate this lousy dialup like I hage the Devil himself!

It's not a fair market. It's a rigged market. You just happen to be benefiting from it. Give a good GD about the millions of us who are being bent over.


20 posted on 08/18/2005 1:03:47 PM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over TWO YEARS now)
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