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U.S. broadband laws: A race to the bottom

It's difficult to be optimistic about Congress' ability to overhaul U.S. broadband laws in anything that remotely resembles a timely fashion, especially given how long it took to enact the Telecom Act of 1996. And one can't help but wonder if its inertia has already doomed the country's fate in the global broadband race to a second-class role behind such leaders as South Korea.


The all-powerful lobbying of the telecom industry has long been leading a race to the bottom, so far as broadband development is concerned. Internecine competition has not only slowed the progress of broadband networks but also related businesses such as handsets, which are often far superior in other countries, and critical applications in other industries, such as health care and public safety.

Sadly, where the United States may have had a chance to regain the lead in broadband only a couple of years ago, it now seems to have become hopelessly entangled in bureaucracy, politics and, perhaps worst of all, devastating ignorance toward one of the most important technologies of the century.

Blog community response:

"It's hard to figure out how concentrating more power and money in the hands of the telecom oligarchy, which has yet to produce much of anything besides commodity services, a race to the bottom for quality of service and customer satisfaction, and some high profile bankruptcies, is going to lead to the kind of innovation that's come from smaller, smarter, but less well connected (at their inception) players."
--By the Bayou

"If we're going to have a comprehensive telecom bill it would be nice to have some very specific language with respect to network neutrality. Considering the recent comments of executives at three of the four RBOCs it seems Congress would do us all a service by clarifying the issue--ideally in favor of a definition to ensure content from competing companies would not deliberately be discarded."

"Sadly, philosophical debates like 'Network Neutrality' don't win votes. The decision will ultimately focus on the business or benefits it will bring to their congressional districts."
--James Seng's Blog