Originally published: July 14, 2010
Last updated: July 14, 2010 - 1:40pm
[Commentary] There's been a lot of buzz recently around Congress questioning the Federal Communications Commission's decision to set a universal broadband goal of 4Mbps down 1Mbps up by 2020 relative to the FCC's 100 Squared goal of 100 million homes having access to 100Mbps by that time.
1) How can we justify setting standards that state that it's good enough that rural Americans will have access to the average speed needed for today's applications ten years from now? That's the very definition of creating second class digital citizens, and seemingly ignores the likelihood that by 2020 life-changing apps that require 10Mbps and beyond will be commonplace.
2) What the FCC conveniently fails to note is that those other countries with lower standards for universal broadband also have much shorter timeframes for achieving them. Sure they may only be shooting for 1Mbps but their goal is to have that universally available within the next two to five years, not the next decade.
3) This is where it's hard not to perceive the FCC as being rather ignorant of the potential impact of their decisions. It's easy to say that we can just revisit the speeds in the future, but these aren't academic discussions, these decisions have real-world consequences.
What the FCC seems to fail to understand is that whatever standard they set should have a direct impact on the kind of broadband networks that get built out, but even more importantly whatever broadband networks get built are what rural America's going to be stuck with for the foreseeable future.
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