Broadband decline

Speaking of which, Foreign Affairs have a preview up for some content in their May/June edition. The figures are pretty stark.

In the first three years of the Bush administration, the United States dropped from 4th to 13th place in global rankings of broadband Internet usage….In the administration’s first three years, President George W. Bush mentioned broadband just twice and only in passing. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) showed little interest in opening home telephone lines to outside competitors to drive down broadband prices and increase demand.

But does broadband, as the piece claims, give benefits of economic growth, increased productivity, and a better quality of life? Following Japan’s model, where fibre-to-home is increasingly available, download speads of 200k/sec widely available in the US are looking increasingly slow. Ireland, under Minister O’Rourke in 2001, promised that every home in would have access to 5Mb lines, a promise never fulfilled – 2Mb is about the best available and that’s limited by geography. The arcticle cites some reports issued by the Brookings Institution:

In 2001, Robert Crandall, an economist at the Brookings Institution, and Charles Jackson, a telecommunications consultant, estimated that “widespread” adoption of basic broadband in the United States could add $500 billion to the U.S. economy and produce 1.2 million new jobs. But Washington never promoted such a policy. Last year, another Brookings economist, Charles Ferguson, argued that perhaps as much as $1 trillion might be lost over the next decade due to present constraints on broadband development. These losses, moreover, are only the economic costs of the United States’ indirection. They do not take into account the work that could have been done through telecommuting, the medical care or interactive long-distance education that might have been provided in remote areas, and unexploited entertainment possibilities.

Bleha mentions that part of the solution to slow broadband rollout maybe the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), a group of private-sector IT leaders and academics. He notes:

One of the PITAC’s first tasks should be to set out bold long-term goals for the deployment of broadband in the United States, carefully distinguishing three different levels of service: basic broadband (at 1.5 to 3 megabits per second), for slow downloads from and uploads to the Internet and Internet telephones; high-speed broadband (at 10 to 30 megabits per second), for Internet reception of digital high-definition television and other video uses; and ultra-high-speed fiber broadband (at 100 megabits per second), for the highest-end applications.

How long before we see 100Mb/sec fibre in Irish homes? I am thinking I will be well into my retirement by then.

4 thoughts on “Broadband decline”

  1. It gets better there, telcos don’t have to sell “naked” dsl meaning customers can’t get broadband only but have to buy phone service etc –

    Then there’s the telcos doing their best to ban Municipal Wifi:

    As for Ireland, 90% of all BB is via dsl. DSL is only available in towns of 1500 population or more. (according to eircom) That’s only 58% of the population though. (according to the CSO) But only 70%-80% of that 58% pass the line test (cos the lines are so crap or split betwen two houses), it means between 41%-46% of the population can right now avail of broadband.

    So fibre ? Hah. Well Magnet Networks are putting it into a handful of estates in Dublin (keep watching them) and Smart do it in Smithfield. That’s about it.

    To allow the roolout of Fibre the Dept of the Environment would need to make force planners to make provisions for ducting in all new developments. They knew this since the O’Rourke era, nothing yet. We were meant to have 5mb broadband this year and it never happened. We were meant to have 350,000 ppl on Broadband this year afer Dermot Ahern said make-it-so, we have at most 150,000. We are meant to have 600,000 BB users by 2008 but take-up rate is slowing not growing. So yea, fibre ? Most won’t even have dsl by 2010.

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