Monday, April 27, 2015

Internet infrastructure emerging as political issue in UK; America likely to follow

When people in the United Kingdom go online, many of them likely mutter -- or shout -- “bloody hell,” particularly in the evenings when video streaming gobbles up bandwidth and degrades the quality of their connections.

That dissatisfaction with Internet service is now being politically mobilized, with nearly 20 percent of UK voters indicating Internet infrastructure policy will be top of mind when they go to the polls, according to a recent survey. That number will likely rise as bandwidth demand inexorably grows at pace rivalling Moore’s Law on microprocessor capacity, doubling about every 18-24 months.

Similarly, I expect American voters will increasingly cast their votes based on candidates’ positions on Internet infrastructure expansion given the U.S. Federal Communications Commission reported in January that Internet infrastructure deployment in the United States was failing to keep pace with today’s advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings. The FCC’s 2015 Broadband Progress Report found 55 million Americans – 17 percent of the population – lack access to Internet connections capable of delivering bandwidth of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for upload.

An indication of Americans’ growing political interest in Internet service is the large volume of comments the FCC received on its recent rulemaking that classified Internet as a common carrier telecommunications service as well as the substantial coverage of the issue in mainstream media.

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