Friday, February 01, 2008

NTIA report on US broadband access blasted

The feds are once again drawing well justified criticism for papering over America's sprawling broadband black holes by relying on an outdated, 12-year-old formula for measuring broadband access. The formula, promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission and adopted in a report on U.S. broadband access released this week by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), simply measures whether anyone -- even just one address -- in a given ZIP Code can obtain broadband, defined in the circa 1996 standard of at least 200kbs in one direction.

One only needs to take a look at two states, California and Tennessee, where large areas are mapped as having no wireline broadband services to see how far off base this federal government report truly is.

One of the FCC's commissioners even took issue with his own agency's data that was used in the NTIA report. "This report relies on widely-discredited data in a strained effort that only distracts us from the real work ahead," Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein said in a statement.

Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, blasted the NTIA report:

“The NTIA report presents a distorted view of the state of broadband in the U.S. The Administration should not be boasting about our success at a time when consumers here pay more money for slower service with have fewer choices than do consumers in other parts of the world.

“Almost 97 percent of U.S. consumers have a choice only between their cable company and their telephone company. The Administration wiped out the policies that once upon a time allowed competition to flourish here and which now sustain the competition in other countries that consumers enjoy.

“The short-sighted policies cited by the NTIA have put our economic future at risk. The rosy picture the NTIA portrayed should have recognized that reality.”


Nate Anderson of arstechnica.com had this to say:

As broadband continues to be a key driver of economic opportunity and growth, falling behind the rest of the world will have real consequences for US high-tech leadership. Instead of addressing that crucial question, though, the report is an unabashed celebration of free-market, deregulatory policies. So enamored with their own economic theories are the authors that they resort to dogmatic lecturing throughout the paper.

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