Friday, September 07, 2007

FCC needs to get it right with wireless broadband

The Federal Communications Commission has to get the wireless "third pipe" of broadband Internet access right in order to inject meaningful market competition and consumer choice into the moribund, duopolistic market it has fostered with its wireline broadband policies, writes columnist Keith Girard of in The New York Times:

The FCC has made a mess of telecommunications policy. As FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps noted recently, the nation is getting "too little broadband at too high a price."

Thanks to the FCC, Cable TV and telephone companies dominate the broadband market. They've basically skimmed the cream off the top by focusing on densely populated, easy-to-service areas. As a result, large parts of the country are underserviced. Only 31 percent of rural households and 41 percent of African American households have broadband service compared with 70 percent of households overall that have a computer, according to a new study by the Pew Internet Project, a nonprofit group. The same holds true for small rural businesses. They are less likely to use broadband services, in part, because of cost and lack of availability, according to several government studies.

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