What Do You Think About Your Broadband Serivce?

March 28, 2010

bband Is There Enough Broadband Competition?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released its National Broadband Plan. In all of its 376 page glory, the plan has been lauded for recognizing that broadband is critical infrastructure for the 21st Century. It points out that “broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life.”

While the plan is applauded for getting the high-level strategy right. Some believe the FCC merely kicked the can down the road when it comes to creating conditions that will ensure robust competition. For most U.S. households “competition” in broadband amounts to the choice of one phone company and one cable company. Many also argue that DSL offered by phone companies in many markets can’t compete with cable when it comes to speed. It is also argued that the market for business broadband offers even less choice among competitors resulting in higher prices and poorer service.

Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society developed a study for the FCC showing that a significant reason that other countries were able to expand access and lower rates over the last decade was that they have a commitment to open-access policies that require companies that build networks, i.e. telecoms and cable companies to sell access to competitors who will then invest in and compete on, the network. The study concluded that if every high-speed internet provider has to build its own network infrastructure, the price of entry is too high and competition will falter and over time the goal of attaining faster speeds at lower costs slips further and further away.

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Fancy economic theories are well….fancy and theoretical so, I’d be very interested to hear from you…the practitioners. What kind of internet service do you use for your business? Cable, DSL, T-1, business broadband, etc.? What is your experience? Are you satisfied with the speed and price available to you? What is on your broadband wish list?

If you aren’t sure about your broadband speed, the FCC has a new tool that allows you to test it and report back to them. You can also report broadband “dead zones”.  Check it out here: http://www.broadband.gov/qualitytest/about/

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Health care reform has passed.   It seems that the Tea Partiers are none to pleased and rather than do the patriotic, American thing like exercising their Constitutional rights by pursuing remedies in the courts they would rather use threats and intimidation.  It's like a bad episode from The Sopranos. …

Melanie is the Senior Technology Policy Representative at the National Association of Realtors. That means she lobbies Congress and Federal Agencies on technology policy issues of importance to the real estate industry. In her pre-NAR life Melanie has been a practicing attorney and a software start-up executive. Like any native Californian, Melanie loves good wine and bountiful farmers markets.


  1. What do I think of my broadband? I think I don’t have any. I think it’s crippling to small, rural communities like ours. And, I think the problem will only get more accute. I use satellite, but it’s a sorry excuse and no one should mistake it for true broadband. It does beat the heck out of dial up. This plan, in my opinion, is unlikely to have any serious impact on broadband availability here. And, any broadband expansion is likely to still be at speeds to low. There’s no great leap here, nothing to even get us on par with many countries in Europe. Never mind getting ahead. This should be a higher economic priority.

    • Julie,

      I just added link to the FCC’s new broadband test too. You can also report the location of your dead zone. This FCC is very interested in data driven policy making. I encourage you to report your dead zone to the FCC. Here’s the link: http://www.broadband.gov/qualitytest/about/

  2. Melanie, Thanks! I’ve taken the test and will be posting the link on my blog so others in the area can do the same!

  3. Our country has put itself at a major disadvantage with broadband by treating it like a utility which in theory sounds great but this isn’t a simple water pipe that either works or it doesn’t… there are varying degrees of effectiveness with broadband, and because of lack of competition, it isn’t affordable to everyone.

    If wifi hotspots catch on and people figure out how to use their phones as a wireless hotspot (like we do when traveling), the mobile phone carriers will benefit while the hard broadband will suffer, maybe that’s the answer- invest in app developers that turn phones into wifi broadcasters and bypass the whole frickin thing?

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  12. You might find the Reggefiber business case (4.13.1, at page 200) in the Berkman Center report interesting insofar as Reggefiber FTTH is conceived on a commercial real estate model. The report is available at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/broadband. Chapter 4, in which the Reggefiber case can be found, is available as a standalone download.

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