Originally published: June 24, 2010
Last updated: June 24, 2010 - 8:57pm
At a forum hosted by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, panelists debated whether the United States is seriously lagging behind other countries on broadband access and if its place on the global stage is related to a failure of telecommunications regulation.
Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation, said the United States was a leader in broadband penetration, but has fallen behind in adoption. Meinrath showed how other countries have better penetration, cheaper prices and proactive broadband plans.
Matthew Wood, associate director of the Media Access Project, focused on the U.S. failure in telecom regulation, pointing to three areas that he said are seriously lacking: universal service fund reforms, transparency regulations and competition policies.
George Ford, chief economist for the Phoenix Center, the nation shouldn't focus so much on the rankings. Rather, it should care about the value. According to Ford, the U.S. broadband connection has a value of 75 times that of Finland. This makes workers more effective and produces a higher GDP output, he said.
ITIF President Robert Atkinson said the United States is a leader in quality broadband, adding that the real problem is that only 62 percent of Americans have a computer at home. Combined with 96 percent of cable modem coverage, the problem simply is adoption, he said, and sometimes people just don't want it.
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