Recently, Deb Socia posted a brilliant suggestion online: “[Internet service providers] need to identify the floor instead of the potential ceiling. Instead of ‘up to’ speeds, how about we say ‘at least’”. ISPs must report the slowest speed they are likely to deliver. I want to be fair to ISPs and I suggest they report both the minimum “at least” speed and the maximum “up to” speed. Those two numbers will tell the right story to the public because together they provide the range of speeds being delivered in a given Census.
A group of Senators recently sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking to raise the definition of broadband to 100/100 Mbps. This speed has been discussed for several years as the logical step forward from the current 25/3 Mbps speed set by the FCC in 2015. It’s clear to everyone in the industry that homes are using a lot more broadband than they did in 2015 – with the biggest change being simultaneous uses of multiple broadband streams in the typical home. The change in broadband definition would trigger the following:
The two biggest cable companies, Comcast and Charter, have taken lots of public bows in 2020 talking about how they are making sure that homes with students have affordable broadband during the pandemic. Comcast is serving low-income students with its Internet Essentials product. Charter has a similar product called Spectrum Internet Assist that delivers 30/3 Mbps for $14.99 with a WiFi router for $5 per month.
If you’re going to build broadband and have a choice of technologies, why is fiber the best choice?
The Western Governor’s Association (WGA) represents all of the states west of the line starting with Texas north to North Dakota, includes Alaska, Hawaii, and the western American territories. In July, the WGA issued a policy position paper that lays forth goals for broadband for 2020 through 2028.
Ryland Sherman recently wrote an article for the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society that recommends that Congress acts to change the rules that allow landlords to block ISPs from their buildings. He also points out that any meaningful change also will require eliminating the ability of ISPs and landlords to negotiate exclusive contracts that block other ISPs from entering buildings.
I work with communities all of the time that want to know if they are unserved or underserved by broadband. I've started to tell them to toss away those two terms, which is not a good way to think about broadband today. The main reason to scrap these terms is that they convey the idea that 25/3 Mbps broadband ought to be an acceptable target speed for building new broadband. Urban America has moved far beyond the kinds of broadband speeds that are being discussed as acceptable for rural broadband. Cable companies now have minimum speeds that vary between 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps.
One of the recurring themes used to promote 5G is that wireless broadband is going to become a serious competitor to wireline broadband. The Federal Communications Commission and the industry have implied for years that 5G cellular will be a competitor for landline broadband. I still can’t see many homes accepting 5G cellular as a replacement for landline broadband. I can think of a number of important ways to compare and contrast the two broadband products:
Christopher Terry recently published an article for the Benton Institute that details how the National Broadband Plan has failed. In my opinion, the National Broadband Plan never had the slightest chance of success because it didn’t have any teeth. Congress authorized the creation of the plan as a way for politicians to show that they were pro-broadband.
[Commentary] The average consumer in a major metropolitan market that has a number of pro sports teams is probably paying around $15 per month to get all of their sports programming.
That’s $180 per year. In more rural markets where there are not direct channels for baseball and basketball the bill is probably closer to $11 per month or $130 dollars per year. This is a heck of a deal for sports fans. Let’s face it, paying $180 to get a huge array of the sports is a great deal when you figure it would cost that much for two people to go to one pro football game.
But the problem is that not everybody is a sports fan. It’s been estimated through polls that maybe 40% of households are serious sports fans. If you do the math and if only the 40% of households that really want sports had to foot the bill that works out to $37.50 per month, or $450 per year, and that monthly number is climbing a few dollars every year.
That’s where the rubber hits the road, because polls also say that a majority of those households would not pay that bill on an unbundled basis if they were asked to pay their fair share. What nobody wants to talk about is that the wheels are slowly starting to come off the cable industry. A recent nationwide poll said that 21% of households were thinking of dropping their cable TV subscription. They won’t all do that, of course, but it is a very bad sign for the industry when that many people say they are thinking about it. We can certainly expect millions of households per year to ditch cable. The average cable bill nationwide is now over $90 per month and many households are deciding that they just can’t afford it.