Studies Question Effectiveness of U.S. Broadband Build-out


On the eve of two simultaneous Congressoinal hearings on broadband deployment in the U.S. and abroad, The Benton Foundation has released two studies suggesting some European countries are overtaking the U.S. in that department.

According to two professors from Pennsylvania State University and one from Indiana University, U.S. broadband regulatory policy is too often driven by carriers rather than consumers, saying U.S. policymakers have been "mired in regulating the relationship among the operators...perceiv[ing] the issue as one that arises from the need to allow operators to provide certain services."

Assistant Professor Amit Schejter of Pennsylvania State University concludes that Europeans have "quickly moved ahead of the U.S. on broadband and have embraced, perfected and are benefiting form the open competitive network concepts first developed by U.S. policymakers but abandoned in the U.S."

The rollout of broadband has infused much telecommunications policy lately including the move to free cable, telephone, and wireless networks, the mandatory Internet access requirements,  spectrum auctions for advanced services, and  video franchise rule rewrites .

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says progress has been made under his watch, while many Democrats say the U.S. does not have a coherent strategy and is falling behind countries like Korea .

The two hearings scheduled for Tuesday are "Communications, Broadband and Competitiveness: How Does the U.S. Measure Up?," () in the Senate Commerce Committee and a House Telecommunications Subcommittee Hearing on "Broadband Lessons From Abroad."

The Benton Foundation is a digital communications think tank that advocates a consumer-centric approach to broadband deployment.