Saturday, July 04, 2009

Australian blogger offers bearish view on U.S. broadband stimulus

Here's what Australian Paul Budde has to say on the U.S. government's rules on broadband stimulus funding released this week:

With countries like Australia and New Zealand implementing infrastructure that can deliver 100Mb/s for their next generation broadband—and with most Europeans not too far behind this—it is quite shocking to see that the $7.2 billion economic stimulus package in the USA (under the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)) requires nothing more than 768 kilobits per second (kb/s) downstream and 200 kb/s upstream.

I am sure that some of you will think that I have misread this but, no, that is indeed the case.

In 2003 Hong Kong decided not to classify as broadband any service that didn't provide 2Mb/s!

The sad part of the story is that, as this money will mainly be deployed in rural America, this guarantees an enormous digital divide in the USA. AT&T and Verizon already offer FttH services in some of the more affluent suburbs, and they are currently extending these services guaranteeing a progressive increase in the quality of broadband services provided to these markets; however, for the foreseeable future there is little hope of seeing such service quality increase (speed) beyond the major cities.

So far, however, our interpretation, and the comments that I have received from my American colleagues, raises very serious concerns, and represents a massive setback for the deployment of broadband in regional and rural America.

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