Monday I changed my position and now support tiered broadband pricing. There is enough existing or potential competition in urban areas to support this pricing model without dampening access to or the adoption rate of high-speed broadband. However, in a continuing revelation as to the simple nature of our politicians, I am putting forward a quote made during the Senate hearings for confirming Julius Genachowski.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. R-Texas (where I live) said, "I believe it is... important that we ensure everyone has broadband access before we go into underserved areas."
What the heck does that mean? Are we suppose to be socialistic in nature and make sure "everyone" has too little of something rather than meet demand. This is not a free market statement. We are capable of addressing both high demand areas and the rural boonies where I was born.
It is this way of thinking that keeps us from doing the right thing on many fronts. Clearly, Genachowski will be confirmed. And if the politicians are honest, they know that the last few years of FCC leadership under Kevin Martin accomplished little for the consumer or the advancement of competitive offerings. Too many decisions made in favor of the incumbents and too little effort to resolve the contentious issues of Universal Service Reform and Net Neutrality diminished the FCC's standing in the eyes of most telecom industry observers.
Ubiquitous broadband will be the driver for all kinds of IP-based applications. VoIP supported by ITSPs such as Broadvox or Wi-Fi and Mi-Fi delivered by wireless carriers such Sprint or Verizon. Broader access and higher speeds will increase SOHOs, support video based applications and allow for the entrepreneurs of web-based applications to push a new horizon of performance.
All right, on to Genachowski's answer, "Underserved can have a number of different definitions", he answered. He suggested underserved could refer to an unserved pocket within an area that has service, and to areas where broadband has not been adopted. "The FCC can adopt strategies to increase adoption in such cases to make broadband a sustainable economic possibility," he concluded.
This is my point. Do it right or not at all. If we go about this where competition is not present, consumers, SOHOs and other will be negatively affected. If we choose to focus only on the areas where carriers are reluctant to invest in the high cost of infrastructure, the country as a whole will lose as we underserve the vast majority of Americans. The US needs to move into the top 10 for broadband access, penetration and pricing to be considered a world leader in the space.
See you on Friday...