Broadband is growing dramatically in the U.S., according to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), but some FCC commissioners disagree.
The report, entitled, “Networked Nation: Broadband in America, 2007” (download here), claims that the NTIA’s technology, regulatory and fiscal policies have stimulated innovation and competition and encouraged investment in the U.S. broadband market, contributing to significantly increased accessibility of broadband services.
Four years ago, President Bush established a national goal of universal, affordable broadband access for all Americans.
The NTIA said that according to the FCC’s 2006 data, broadband service was available in 99 percent of the nation’s zip codes, encompassing 99 percent of the nation’s population. The administration also said that since President Bush took office, the total number of broadband lines in the U.S. has grown by more than 1,100 percent – from almost 6.8 million lines in December 2000 to 82.5 million in December 2006, according to the most recent FCC data.
In addition, the NTIA said that by December 2006, 91.5 percent of zip codes had three or more competing service providers, and that more than 50 percent of the nation’s zip codes had six or more competitors.
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein responded to the report with the following statement: “With only half of adult Americans participating in the broadband age and U.S. consumers paying far more than citizens in other countries for less bandwidth, this report appears to be missing some key chapters. Noticeably absent is any coherent strategy going forward.
“Despite the hard work of broadband providers and the dire need for greater bandwidth, the U.S. continues to slide down virtually every measure of the international rankings of broadband competitiveness. The truth is we're behind, we are falling further, and we pay more per megabit than many of our global competitors.
“Far from declaring victory, we need a national strategy for delivering affordable, truly-high speed Internet connections to all Americans, no matter where they live,” Adelstein continued. “Each day we fail to take realistic account of our successes and failures and rise to the broadband challenge means lost opportunities for our communities and our country's productivity, health, public safety, environment, and economic future.”
Commissioner Michael Copps had this to say about the report: “Networked Nation? If the United States were a networked nation consumers would be paying half as much for broadband connections 20 times as fast. That’s what many consumers around the globe get. Instead, NTIA slices and dices bad data (full disclosure: much of it from the FCC) in ever more outlandish ways to reach the conclusion that all is well – don’t worry, be happy. If we spent more time developing strategies for truly ubiquitous and affordable broadband rather than watching our international competitors lap us at every turn, we actually might have something to crow about,” Copps said.
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