Study: US sees 'broadband boom' this decade

Government doesn't need to revamp broadband policy, paper says

The U.S. government should avoid making huge changes in its deregulatory telecom policies because consumers have seen a "broadband boom" since 2000, according to a new paper released Wednesday.

Residential broadband speeds in the U.S. grew by 54 times between 2000 and 2008, while wireless broadband speeds grew by a factor of 542, said the paper, from tech research firm Entropy Economics.

"Some interest groups have asserted we live in a sort of digital Dark Age," said Bret Swanson, the paper's author and president of Entropy Economics. "But this didn't seem quite right to us, so we attempted to measure the growth of consumer bandwidth -- or the capacity to communicate -- over the last several years."

A huge economic stimulus package passed by the U.S. Congress earlier this year included $US7.2 billion for broadband deployment and requires the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to create a national broadband plan. Organizations like Free Press, a media reform group, have called on the FCC and Congress to reintroduce some regulations to drive competition to the broadband market.

The U.S. needs strong net-neutrality rules, requirements that networks be open to competitors and reform of the Universal Service Fund, that provides subsidies for traditional telephone service, but not broadband, Free Press said in a paper released in May.

The U.S. has fallen from fifth in the world in broadband penetration in 2000 to 22nd in 2007, according to the International Telecommunication Union, the Free Press report said. In addition, the U.S. is 14th in the world in average advertised download speeds, the Free Press report said.

"We need a new direction," Free Press said. "Each month that policymakers let pass without addressing our broadband problems is another month that millions of low-income children fall further behind in acquiring the technology skills that they will need to compete in the 21st-century global economy. Each month of FCC inaction is another month that millions of Americans will pay billions more than they should for Internet connections that are too slow to even deserve to be called 'broadband.'"

But critics of international comparisons of broadband penetration say the statistics are flawed because they don't take into account population density, and they count broadband connections per capita instead of per household. U.S. families tend to be larger than those in several other countries, and parts of the U.S. have a much lower population density than some other countries ahead of it in the broadband statistics.

U.S. broadband speeds and availability have grown significantly while the U.S. government has taken a largely hands-off approach to telecom regulation, Swanson said. In 2000, businesses paid about $US1,000 a month for a 1.5M bps (bits per second) T-1 line, and now, residential consumers can get significantly faster connections for around $US50 a month.

From 2000 to 2008, the number of residential broadband customers in the U.S. grew from 5 million to 80 million, Swanson added. Mobile broadband services were nearly nonexistent in 2000, he said.

U.S. broadband speeds do need to get faster to be able to handle new Web-based services such as video, he said. And many rural areas still don't have broadband as an option. The U.S. should also focus on increasing broadband adoption rates, he recommended.

But the U.S. is catching up to countries such as Japan and South Korea, which had large advantages in broadband speeds earlier in the decade, Swanson said.

"We should remain on this pro-investment, pro-big bandwidth course," he said. "There's no need for any dramatic shift that could hinder this very important investment."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags broadbandderegulationnet-neutrality

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?