Saturday, March 13, 2010

Is the US Government Finally Getting It Right On Broadband Internet Access?

It was either yesterday or the day before when an article on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News caught my eye, Google dangles super-fast Internet; cities leap to compete for network. What struck me as funny about this article -- here in Silicon Valley, you might think that you are the only region in the country that is desperately seeking more bandwidth. Suddenly, you look around behind you and there are thousands of communities, millions of people who are just as desperate as you are.

If you look at it from the consumer side of the equation, the desire is for faster network speeds and more bandwidth is ubiquitous. The problem with broadband network access and bandwidth isn't a technology problem, it's a revenue problem. Specifically, it's a "why should we spend anything on expanding our capacity until we have maximized our return on our existing infrastructure investments" problem, and it's being managed by your friendly neighborhood network providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast. Imagine if your Internet access was limited by the local news paper -- and they tried to maximize the amount of money they made on both Internet and paper sales. Or imagine if your Internet access was limited by the record companies attempting to maintain and maximize revenues on CD and DVD sales (oh wait...).

So, when I came across this article this morning from the New York Times, Effort to Widen U.S. Internet Access Sets Up Battle, I felt compelled to say a couple of silent words of thanks and write this post. Don't get me wrong, while I'm optimistic, I'm not expecting success. Over the past decade and a half, the push to see a universal high-speed network infrastructure has been matched by the glacial resistance of the Bells. Perhaps with this initiative, there is finally some light at the end of the fiber.

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