Latest FCC report shows broadband competition flourishing

January 23, 2009

Lost in the news over the last week was the FCC release of important facts about the status of US broadband competition — that are exceptionally relevant to the net neutrality/open Internet debate — a debate which is essentially over whether or not to replace competition policy with regulation because not enough broadband competition has developed.

The FCC released, several months late, the FCC’s biennial report on high speed Internet progress through 2007.

First, the latest FCC data belie the net neutrality charge that broadband competition is not working. (see Table 4 Residential Advanced Services Lines) In 2007:

  • Mobile wireless broadband lines grew by 6.4m lines or 237%;
  • Fiber broadband lines grew by .9m lines or 121%;
  • Cable modem broadband lines grew by 4.2m lines or 14%; and
  • DSL broadband lines grew by 3.7m lines or 19%.

Second, to put this broad intermodal growth in context, the report records data that:

  • Puts the US leading the world in cable modem broadband users, because the US is the only nation in the world that has a competing nationally deployed wireline broadband infrastructure.
  • The report also records data that puts the US leading the world in deployment of fiber connections, because most of the rest of the world, particulary Europe, heavily price regulate legacy copper plant as a monopoly thus discouraging intermodal competition and broadband deployment of fiber, cable, satellite and wireless technologies.
  • The report also records data that shows the US leads the world in wireless broadband, an amazing competitive success story that I will write about more soon.

Bottom line:

To the extent that the net neutrality/open Internet debate is based on real facts and real directions in broadband competition, there is precious little factual evidence warranting that the FCC, Congress and the Nation abandon the highly-successful competition policies that are in place — for the completely unproven case that a competitive market cannot provide an open Internet as embodied in the FCC’s net neutrality principles.

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