Friday, September 5, 2014

We Still Need Better Broadband

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler agrees that we need better broadband capacity and competition in the US.  And while he was speaking about better wired broadband, the same announcement should apply to wire and wireless.  The c/net article cited thinks such remarks hurt the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, but the truth is that no such competition currently exists between these two media giants.  They each deliver broadband to different community franchises.  So it is a mute point.

But the bottom line is that broadband speed is lacking in this country, especially as more devices are enabled on the platform.  Coaxial wired broadband is limited both in capacity and in usage.  The more users on a ring, the slower the performance.  Heck the more users of broadband devices in a house, the slower the speed.  My own house is a perfect example.  A tablet running a video will slow down internet access on the pc. 

But we have known that our broadband speeds are lacking for quite a while.  In March, the website ThisWeek shared that "According to a recent study by Ookla Speedtest, the U.S. ranks a shocking 31st in the world in terms of average download speeds. The leaders in the world are Hong Kong at 72.49 Mbps and Singapore on 58.84 Mbps. And America? Averaging speeds of 20.77 Mbps, it falls behind countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Uruguay."  Yes, America's download speeds are worse than many Eastern European countries.  What took Tom Wheeler so long to address it and what is he doing about it?

Preventing a Time Warner Cable - Comcast merger is not the solution to the problem.  In fact, consolidation creates some economies of scale that could perhaps improve broadband speed to some communities.  Our reliance on broadband is bigger than that.  To many, broadband access and speed is more important than bread and gasoline.  We could be standing in line waiting for our access and share of broadband.  Even days for broadband, odd days for gas.  

More needs to be done to improve broadband speed and performance in the US.  The infrastructure is collapsing under its own weight as more and more people stream content across their many devices.  The demand is certainly there, its time for the supply to catch up. 

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