Tuesday, March 20, 2012

“Broadband adoption” is an irrelevant non sequitur

More than a decade after the term “broadband adoption” was relevant, studies such as this one issued today by TechNet continue to use the phrase as if the United States was on the eve of the new millennium and Y2K was a topic of concern. In 2000, discussing “broadband adoption” was pertinent since “broadband” Internet connections were relatively new and distinct from the then commonplace dialup “narrowband” service delivered over legacy copper cable telephone networks.

In 2012, broadband adoption is a non sequitur since both the term “broadband” and the notion that people are migrating in large numbers from “narrowband” are badly outdated. Nowadays, the Internet can deliver voice telephone and TV video in addition to websites and email that was relatively novel for many in 2000.

People adopted voice telephone and TV decades ago. What has changed is the means over which these services are provided. Internet protocol technology and fiber optic connections allow voice, video, websites, email and many yet to be popularized applications to be delivered to peoples’ homes.

TechNet is talking about the wrong subject. The real issue isn’t “broadband adoption.” The real issue is lack of adequate Internet infrastructure. President Obama so in his January State of the Union speech in which he spotlighted America’s "incomplete high-speed broadband network.” While the president’s choice of terminology — “broadband network” — is technologically obsolete from this writer’s perspective, he is clearly on the right track in identifying the problem as one of infrastructure.

It’s time to retire the term “broadband adoption” to the history books and get on with modernizing the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure to provide all American homes fiber optic connections and the many Internet-based services they can provide.

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