Friday, May 23, 2008

Cynical spin campaign shifts broadband build out burden to consumers

Telecommunications companies are engaged in a subtle PR campaign that attempts to shift the burden to consumers to prove they want broadband before they build out their infrastructures in order to make it available. Their position -- made clear in this PC World item via Yahoo News -- is unless demand can be shown, we aren't building it.

It's really nothing more than a cynical, self serving delaying tactic, part of the paper chase diversion of drawing maps and aggregating demand that allows the telcos and cable companies to sit back and do nothing, content to depreciate their aging and increasingly obsolete infrastructures instead of investing in upgrading them for the modern Internet era of telecommunications. They're essentially saying, if consumers can't prove to our satisfaction they really want broadband, then they can get by with circa 1992 dialup connections or go suck a satellite and put up with high cost and sluggish, often unreliable connections. The problem is consumers won't ever be able to do so since the true intent is to buy time, not prove market demand.

Consultant Jeff Kagan tells PC World most consumers don't need more than a 3Mbps connection even as broadband providers are rolling out connections up to 20Mbps. For now and for those mired in broadband black holes for years, Kagan's right. But just because most consumers don't need a 20Mbps connection doesn't mean they don't need -- or want as some industry apologists suggest -- a 3Mbps connection. Providers should be providing broadband throughout their entire service areas at that minimum level of service right now and planning for 20Mbps connections in the near future.

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