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More to broadband than meets the eye

A reader writes that it's not just regulations that are stifling widespread broadband rollout.


More to broadband than meets the eye

In response to the May 8 Perspectives column by Paul Beckner, "Ending the broadband rip-off":

I welcomed the general idea of this column, but I have to disagree with the idea that regulations are stifling widespread broadband rollout. My perspective rests on a few basic premises. First, the phone companies are free to roll out DSL now in many areas. And have they done their level best to make it available everywhere? I think you'll agree that they could do a lot more in their current service areas. I won't even reference their tactics for squeezing CLEC DSL providers out of their markets.

Second, do you remember ISDN? I do, as well as the hype that surrounded it. ISDN was another instance where the phone companies had the ability to provide high-speed connections and failed to rise to the challenge. Why will they treat DSL any differently?

Third is the incumbents' monopoly pricing of their old-guard broadband service, the venerable T1 connection. One reason they are feeling the heat from cable broadband is that they staunchly refuse to cannibalize this existing line of business. At $1,000 or more per month, a T1 connection provides a connection comparable in speed and latency to my cable modem for about 20 times the cost. Of course, if my phone company would offer a T1 connection for $50 per month, I might have had a tougher decision to make. Once again, technology is not the bottleneck. The phone companies are crying to Congress to help them preserve their consumer-harming monopolies.

Beckner contends that widespread adoption of broadband would contribute $500 billion to the U.S. economy. I agree with this contention, but do not believe the rate of the adoption process is limited by regulations. After all, in markets where broadband service is available, consumers are only slowly adopting it. One only need reference the number of people who continue to pay for dial-up in markets where broadband is available. (I switched as soon as my cable company made broadband service available.) I believe that even if broadband connections were available everywhere, it would still take awhile for consumers to adopt it.

Runako Godfrey
Austin, Texas



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