Deployment of Networks Where Adequate Broadband Does Not Exist

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Digital Beat

Deployment of Networks Where Adequate Broadband Does Not Exist 

Jon Sallet

In the next decade, everyone in America should be able to use High-Performance Broadband. Today, millions of people in the U.S. have no access to robust broadband networks. One essential building block for broadband policy for the next century is advancing broadband deployment

How should the United States ensure that robust, competitive broadband finally reaches the places that lack service today? The search for solutions leads to new entrants—rural electrical cooperatives, local governmental collaborations with private companies, and more.

First, policymakers and citizens need an accurate portrait of broadband deployment—not only where it is but what it is. We need to know not only the speeds at which High-Performance Broadband operates but also its critical performance criteria, including latency, monthly-capacity limits (if any), and pricing. To extend opportunity everywhere, this report urges the adoption of policies that provide all people in the United States with the opportunity to subscribe to High-Performance Broadband—that is to say, with the performance characteristics typically achieved by a fiber-based network, among them high actual speeds and low latency.

Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s

The first priority of deployment funding is to build to areas that lack broadband. But to ensure everyone can fully benefit, policymakers also must examine places where internet-access performance is inadequate.

There is a tendency to call the construction of new, competitive networks in a locality with an existing network “overbuilding,” as if it were an unnecessary thing, a useless piece of engineering. But what some call “overbuilding” should be called by a more familiar term: “Competition.” “Overbuilding” is an engineering concept. “Competition” is an economic concept that helps consumers because it shifts the focus from counting broadband networks to counting the dollars that consumers save when they have competitive choices.

For more details and recommendations on broadband deployment see  Broadband for America's Future: A Vision for the 2020s. And please sign up for updates around the report.

Jonathan Sallet is a Benton Senior Fellow. He works to promote broadband access and deployment, to advance competition, including through antitrust, and to preserve and protect internet openness. He is the former-Federal Communications Commission General Counsel (2013-2016), and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Litigation, Antitrust Division, US Department of Justice (2016-2017). 

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.

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Broadband Delivers Opportunities and Strengthens Communities

By Jonathan Sallet.