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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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September 28, 2007 9:35 AM

More Cries for National Broadband Policy/Strategy

Apparently two FCC commissioners appeared at a US Senate hearing yesterday, making strong arguments for the implementation of a "national broadband strategy," according to this Ars Technica article.

Have to admit, I'm finding myself growing tired of the continual cries for a national broadband strategy.

You know why? Because I've heard a heckuva lot more about how important it is and how badly we need it, yet I've heard very little about what it might entail and how we might accomplish the goals many have stated we need to be shooting for.

Universal broadband access is a big one on this front for me.

So everyone should have access to broadband...of course.

So we need to get broadband access to everyone...no doubt.

But how do we actually accomplish that?

How can we incentivize private companies to invest in less economically attractive rural areas? I hope there are better answers than the RUS fund, giving out government handouts to those companies that can navigate the paperwork and regulatory hurdles to qualify.

How can we get private companies to invest in a full-fiber infrastructure? Let's cut the crap and acknowledge that that is the logical end game for Internet access. If you want evidence of this, just notice the fact that every major wireline broadband providers touts their fiber optic network, no matter how close that network runs to consumers' houses. And only through full-fiber will we be able to not only reach the goal of a 100Mbps Nation but surpass it.

How do we balance public vs. private deployment? Some call for publicly owned infrastructure, but I've spoken with many local governments who have no interest in entering the telecom game. And forcing mandatory buildout requirements on fiber deployers can be a troublesome proposition. Plus it's not like we can make the private operators just give up their networks and go away.

Yes there's a problem. Yes we need more investment in infrastructure. Yes we need a national broadband strategy. But now we need to be figuring out what that actually means and identifying ways to accomplish these goals.

We should also understand that unless the federal government's willing to step up and invest hundreds of billions of dollars in upgrading the country's broadband infrastructure that we'll need to rely on private interests to some degree to get where we need to go.

But for now, let's give ourselves somewhere to start:

- We need to know where broadband is deployed so we can identify underserved areas.

- We need to redefine "broadband" as 200Kbps is not sufficient to support the vast majority of cool new applications the Internet enables.

- We need to protect consumers when it comes to them better understanding what it is they're buying when they sign up for broadband and what they can do with broadband once subscribed.

- We need to support all deployers of fiber, whether private or public, making sure we're not putting artificial barriers that slow investment in front of either.

What else should we add to this list? And what thoughts do people have on how we should pursue accomplishing these goals?

I'll be sharing a series of thoughts on these and related matters next week, along with my experiences writing from the FTTH Conference.

It should be an exciting week!


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Comments (2)


I agree with nearly everything you bring up here, but I take issue with local governments who do not want to enter the telecom game. Does building a road mean government is entering the shipping game and competing with UPS or taxis? Of course not.

St. Paul just started down a path of building a fiber network that will allow service providers to access customers without having to deal with the massive capital expenditures to build a wire network throughout the city. This is a great path.

If you want to talk about a solution with private companies building networks, we have to be careful not to allow a continuation of the de facto monopolies we have seen. The only way I see private networks participating in solving the broadband problem is if they allow competitors access to their customers. This is what the Japanese did and now they make us look silly.

If we just build fiber everywhere, without working to establish a true market for services, people will be better off ... barely. But they won't be competitive with places that have markets - creating better services at lower costs.

I finally want to add that I am deeply afraid of ConnectKentucky model - offering yesterday's speeds and a future of federal handouts to private companies... People in rural areas deserve better and we can do better.

Posted by christopher on September 28, 2007 12:23 PM

One of the good points you bring up is where broadband is deployed and identifying underserved areas. The Communications Workers of America thru it's Speed Matters project has a broadband map based on it's speed test, showing a state by state breakdown of broadband coverage and the up/down speed of those who took the test. The website is www.speedmatters.org

Posted by Paul Bolbat on September 28, 2007 2:04 PM

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