22 thoughts on “It's about time: U.S. almost gets serious about broadband buildout”

  1. > Ignite – I don’t need. What I want is more intelligent policy to help build more fiber, easier Wi-Fi deployments and most importantly – competition – a lot of competition.

    Bingo !

      1. Om, it can. Steve Jobs’ lasting legacy will be that he revived equal access in 2007 after the FCC killed it in 2004.

        Pricing of bandwidth started disconnecting from Moore’s and Metcalfe’s laws about 10 years ago after the farcical Telecom Act and CLEC bust.

        The arbitrage between retail and economic cost per bit is the widest it has been in 30 years. Something’s gotta give.

  2. Everyone seems to always talk about Facebook, What about MySpace? I do believe it was around long before Facebook, even going through the predators problem ad nauseam.

  3. Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will quietly kill this initiative. What is needed is a federal law that allows local governments to build, own and operate broadband networks. States and the US governments should offer tax breaks for small established providers to build out their networks.

    1. There are private approaches that still can work. Need to focus on marginal cost. Nobody is doing that. Download as many whitepapers you can on broadband from FCC, academia, trade and search for marginal cost. You won’t find it referred to!

  4. Great Post!
    The same thing needs to happen in every country. The USA is not the only one with this issue. No joined up thinking with the utilities. Incumbents protecting their legacy assets. Rural areas with no connectivity and new innovative start ups denied funding, not helped or supported and often squashed by the power of the larger telco and their marketing budgets.
    The answer can only be competition. If we help rural startups delivering in the ‘hardest to reach’ places with fibre, those networks will be so superior they will harvest urban customers, and no amount of marketing could destroy them, as they will have the futureproof solution, which will become apparent. The only way the big boys can then compete is to up their game and say goodbye to the copper. This is being debated at the moment in the EU, if anyone wants to join in and make their voice heard. Comment from the USA is most welcome. The hashtag is #da12bb.

    1. Chris, unfortunately as OM points out and other comments reflect, there is no really new, disruptive player in this group. What we need is policy, trade and capital markets that begin to understand the implication and outcomes for a horizontally as opposed to vertically integrated approach. The former scales technology rapidly at every layer and pricing reflects marginal cost. The latter doesn’t scale and average pricing drives high-volume users off-net and everything spirals towards ever higher pricing. Bandwidth in this country should be 90+% cheaper than it is today.

      1. Infostack

        Thanks for the comment. It is weird but there is no talk of competition in Washington at all – yes there is lip service but that’s about all. The competition is what will drive the demand and prices and also open up opportunities for others.

  5. I don’t need to bring up much of the Internet came to be from government programs, they start the ball rolling private companies pick up from there. Unfortunately, we’re in a time when competition of SP is not helping the consumer. The SP are taking their time slowly building out their networks where the demand is. This allows places like the Bay Area and NY 20-40Gbps while other parts of the country are at T1 speeds or less. Take that and compare it with the average speed in S Korea and well, one will see the US needs some government kick to get going. A perfect way to boost our economy, dig up the old copper and replace it with fiber.

    1. The foundational layers (1-2) of the internet were ironically and unintentionally built on a monopolistic pricing reaction to a competitive WAN in the mid-to-late 1980s. By going to flat rate pricing and expanding LATAs the Bells, enabled commercial ISPs to cost effectively place dial-up modems/routers and “centralize” access. With unlimited dial-up the US jumped ahead in the internet race and never lost the lead. There’s a reason most of the internet giants developed here. This perspective also shows there’s a bit of a fallacy (and irony) in thinking that the internet was always supposed to be “free”. Finally government did its level best in 1996 and 2004, specifically and throughout the 00s generally to kill competition.

  6. Just like Lincoln spread the Rail across the country, and Eisenhower built the Interstate, Obama has a unique chance to improve and extend the Broadband network I this country.

    1. That won’t happen. why?. With corporate America sitting on over two trillion dollars (refusing to put it to use) and political chasm based on ideology in Washington DC, one could not get a better recipe for stagnation in what you correctly envisioned.

  7. Look at what Australia is doing: The government is laying the fiber and reselling it wholesale. So there is the potential for local competition, but not large scale consolidation.

    1. That leaves only one provider with no incentive for redundancy and an innovation bottleneck down the road. Maybe short-term success. Will they have the guts to foster facilities competition in the future? Be interesting to watch.

  8. I feel ya Om; every salient point you made is right on target. It is a sad sad commentary; with all the technical visions and the outcry over the pittance we get from US giant Telcos,who labeled it as “broadband”,there is just no political will or the consensus to make this a reality.

    We was robbed again. US show look to Australia for deploying fiber from shining sea to shining sea. Cheers.

  9. Obama has a second chance as some writers pointed to lay down the big infrastructure projects. There is a direct correlation to communication infrastrucutre and GDP in the history of civilization and this is one last gasp left. Over-simplified math says – with 60M households (60% of households) given $1500 for broadband (its the last mile problem) – i.e. $100B connects them with >100Mbit links each. No need to mention the benefits of 100+ Mbit links into your home – the use cases, applications are numberous and many to come like Arpa net did. I have always wondered if $100B was spent on last mile over shovel ready digging projects, what would be the state of the economy. Lot more jobs, applications, technologies and use cases could have been derived.

    I Hope this moonshot gets a chance and has the drive to railroad this through.

    Given $1500 tax credit for every household to order a >100Mbit broadband. Let the consumers drive the market.



  10. I’m fairly conservative in nature and completely support Obama on this measure. Not only does this allow hundreds if not thousands of people to work for their money instead of counting on handouts, but it puts us on track towards the technology leader of the world again.

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