Bennett vs. Eeyore on Broadband in America

It’s odd, isn’t it, how some persist in seeing the absolute wosrt in America?  This is certainly true in broadband, where In the face of news that the U.S., in short order, has catapulted from 22nd to 8th in broadband speed in just a few years, critics still angrily call for more regulation (and often the wrong regulation).  Harold Feld is right out front, criticizing Richard for daring to notice the improvement:

A recent series of opinion pieces, jumping off from a fairly positive White House assessment of broadband progress, trumpeted the case for feeling good about Internet availability in America. For example, Richard Bennett of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation wrote in the New York Times that we’ve moved all the way from 22nd in international broadband rankings to eighth.

For those who are uninspired by the rallying cry “We’re No. 8,” nearly identical commentaries from honchos at Verizon and Comcast appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer and again in the NYT to assure us that we lead the world in 4G LTE wireless deployment, and we beat Europe in 100-megabit wired networks.

Feld throws out some oddly disjointed facts, cobbled together in an effort to paint the most pessimistic case about US broadand.  Hopefully readers who were despondent after reading Feld’s Eeyore-esque piece noticed that the The LA Times has published a crisp response from Richard:

Harold Feld fails to deliver much analytic value. Instead of attacking my New York Times opinion piece as Pollyanna advocacy because he doesn’t approve of the facts, Feld should digest the impact that changing circumstances have on Internet policy.

Independent research finds that broadband is now available to more than 99% of U.S. homes, and the speed of U.S. broadband networks is improving rapidly: While they were 22nd worldwide in 2009, they’re now 8th and rising. These facts have important policy implications.

With coverage and speed well in hand, America’s policymakers are free to turn their attention to present-day issues. At the top of the list is transforming obsolete telephone subsidy programs into 21st century broadband and mobile stimulus engines that will encourage more widespread adoption of the Internet. Many Americans choose not to subscribe to broadband not because it costs too much but because they fail to see its relevance or lack the skills to use it.

As circumstances change in the rapidly moving technology sector, critics who harp on yesterday’s problems retard needed progress.

Noting progress doesn’t mean halting improvement.  But as circumstances change, our policy goals should adjust accordingly.  The regulatory regime already struggles to keep up in tech and telecom.   It doesn’t help when people continue to agitate for old solutions to yesterday’s problems.

  • Johnny Broadband

    You are so evil. The fact that you constantly make excuses for Americas mediocre broadband rating only supports the argument that the status quo isn’t working no matter what the reasons. You are old and so is your way of thinking and this country will be much better off when relucs such as yourself pass on and progress can be made

    • Richard Bennett

      The data says otherwise.

    • James T.

      Hint to Johnny Broadband: Ad homimems do not make for good debate, particularly when you don’t employ spell check.

      • Johnny Broadband

        It’s 2013. I live in the Empire State of America with 29 homes within one mile of me, 85 on the entire road thats a little over eight miles long. We can’t get the internet unless we go with inadequate, expensive satellite. Broadband is a public servant to the people and a good government would make sure all citizens had an equal opportunity to participate in the digital age. You’re anecdotal data means nothing to the 19 million Americans who don’t have access to this commodity necessary for our success.

        • Johnny Broadband

          And that’s not a homonym my friend, those are the facts. Broadband is a natural monopoly and we all know it. If it wasn’t Mr. Bennett wouldn’t be fighting his loosing battle so hard.

  • Johnny Broadband

    Nope I’d have to say we’ve given the private sector long enough to spur up real competition and innovation. No ones going to compete for rural America. The telcos aren’t going to compete period. They’ve long had their chance to compete in the market place and offer consumers many options at a fair price. Instead they cooperated and consolidated leaving Americans with no choices at the highest possible price. You’re right, I am an Eeyore because it’s depressing to see the greatest invention of our time held for ransom by corporate greed.

  • Johnny Broadband

    But hey don’t get me wrong. Corporations have have every right to be greedy, it’s what makes them successful. Kudos to Mr. Roberts Jr and his 30 billion dollar company (Comcast) he inherited from daddy. It’s every  American families dream to capitalize on a deregulated monopoly. The real villains in all this are the Nightwatchman at the FCC. How can they still view broadband as an informational luxury and not a telecommunications necessity?
         Just yesterday I was in Lowes when a young lady approached the counter and said she’d like to fill out an application. The clerk told her that they do all applications online. I see this kind of thing everyday and I just have to laugh at this point and accept that there’s a whole entire world out there that many of us are left out of. From banking to medicine all require an internet connection for better information. If she were like me she has to go to library every single day to correspond with them. And that’s not because we can’t afford the internet mind you, it’s because its not available to us at any cost. And I’m talking real broadband, the one that comes from a hard line not from satellite or wireles. Unlike you I’ve had a personal experience with using every satellite providers services. ViaSat, Hughesnet, Exceed, WildBlue, I’ve tried them all. All of which are about as useful as a football bat. And anyone who is reading this that’s also had the misfortune of relying on these providers knows exactly what I’m talking about. Not to mention every bit of their customer service is outsourced. I don’t speak Hindi and they don’t speak English, the conversation pretty much ends there. It wouldn’t matter if they could speak English anyway however, no one can do anything about the simple fact that the satellite is 40,000 miles away in outer space, making latency unbearable for any Internet application. But being from San Jose California you couldn’t comprehend the struggles one must go through when dealing with these services. No matter how much of an expert you consider yourself to be things are a little different when you actually must rely on the services as your only means of telecommunication. Wireless wouldn’t be half bad if there was a tower ever other mile but again being from a metropolis you couldn’t imagine how frustrating it can be not living directly under a cell tower.
    I’m sure your reasoning sounds completely logical to people living in places like San Jose, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Detroit but you’re not going to get very many people from the country to agree with you on this. That’s right we live in the country and that doesn’t make us bad people that should be treated like second-class citizens. Regardless of location or population density every American should have access to this common, everyday necessity via hardline. And I mean everybody. Everyone has access to a telephone and electricity why is it that the cable wire is the only wire on the utility pole that’s unregulated? That’s a good question.
         You said its odd how people persist in seeing the very worst in America. Don’t you think it’s a little hard for us not to? Put yourself in our shoes for a moment. I dare you to go ahead and cancel your Comcast subscription and sign up for any one of the satellite providers, and then try and tell us all everything is hunky dory. If you’re not willing to do that then I see no justification in you blasting your propaganda. Your argument is hindering the success of me, my family, my neighborhood, state, and country and we don’t really appreciate it. Eighth  place is nothing the United States of America should be proud of, neither is fifth, nor second. We were first to the moon, we’re  2-0 in world wars, and we INVENTED the internet. That kind of success doesn’t come from a country whose attitude is that eighth place is OK. The only thing that’s odd is how you find it to be acceptable that this great nation should settle for anything less than number one.

  • Walt

    I’m just starting to get the overall picture regarding wireless broadband services and thinking about taking my small company from landlines to VoIP. Do you have any thoughts on this with regards to the options i.e. SIP trunking vs. hosted PBX, etc., any thoughts would be appreciated as I hear good and bad things about both. -Walt

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