FCC: Broadband Deployment Still Not Timely, Reasonable
Chairman says while Docsis' 100 Mbps speed is advertised as "technically" available to 80%, only 27% of Americans being offered those speeds today
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/21/2012 12:37:50 PM
That came in its latest 706 Report, which is a congressionally mandated report on the state of advanced communications deployment.
Republicans Robert McDowell and Ajit Pai dissented from the conclusion, the third year the commission has come up with that answer based on the number of still-unserved people and the third year the commission's Republicans -- formerly McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker -- have dissented.
While the report finds that there have been significant and substantial steps taken by the public and private industry to accelerate deployment, it cites the approximately 19 million Americans "in areas still unserved by terrestrial-fixed broadband" and concludes that for that, and "other reasons," it must conclude "that broadband is not yet being deployed to â€˜all Americans' in a reasonable and timely fashion."
That came despite the report's detailing of the major strides cable operators and others have made toward deployment and adoption, including "billions invested by the communications industry in broadband deployment, including next-generation wired and wireless services" and "expansion of networks technically capable of 100 megabit-plus speeds to over 80 percent of the population through cable's DOCSIS 3.0 rollout."
In his statement on the report, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski suggested that there was still a big gap between that 80% availability and actual speeds. "Industry reports that the upgrade of cable infrastructure to DOCSIS 3.0 technology means that more than 80% of Americans have access to networks technically capable of 100 Mbps or more," he said, "[b]ut our data show that just 27% of Americans are being offered broadband services at those speeds today, and U.S. prices for these higher speed services exceed many other countries."
Senior Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell said that broadband rollout had been "swift and strong," and said he was disappointed that, yet again, the majority had "decided to clutch to its earlier negative findings."
The report talks about the advances in mobile wireless, but still does not include that deployment in the standard for meeting the "reaonable and timely" benchmark. A separate notice of inquiry issued with the report asks whether it should be included in future reports. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, for one, is a definite "yes" for that change.
McDowell and Pai obviously don't understand what life without broadband is like in rural areas such as western Massachusetts, where I live (I'm posting this comment at a Starbucks). There is nothing "reasonable" or "timely" about high-speed connectivity which has not been available here and, left to the existing providers, will not be. Instead, a consortium of 40 small towns here called WiredWest is working to build a FTTH network. There are many such municipal initiatives around the country, where local communities have taken their fate in their own hands. Isn't that the essence of the self-reliance preached by the fellow GOPers of these two out-of-touch Commissioners?
Steve Nelson, WiredWest Executive Committee - 8/22/2012 1:53:22 PM EDT
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