The Broadband Scandal

You know that broadband internet coverage in the United States sucks right? Huh – you mean you thought it was so cool that you can now get a 1.5Mbs DSL connection? Bellsouth/ATT offered you 6Mbs Extreme? Have you checked your upstream connection lately? That is why it is technically known as aDSL. The “a” stands for asymmetric – as in the downstream bandwidth is much greater than the upstream.

Even with 6Mbs or 10Mbs (that mega-bits not bytes), the US is still way behind in the industrialized world with connectivity. For the most part, we created the Internet, and our connections suck.

Fixing US broadband: $100 billion for fiber to every home
…But these 100Mbps connections are coming slowly; in the meantime, countries like Japan already have them. To avoid falling further behind, the report calls for a national broadband policy to be passed this year, one that includes $100 billion for a fiber-to-the-home infrastructure that will connect every household and business in the country.
…Between 1999 and 2006, the US fell from third place to 20th in the International Telecommunications Union’s broadband usage measurements.

Now here is the really interesting part of this whole deal. Ever heard of the “$200 Billion Broadband Scandal“? Let me summarize then. Basically – back in the mid ’90s the telecos (telephone companies) were supposed to deploy fiber and fiber/coax networks to millions of homes by the year 2000 as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. We are supposed to have 45 Mbs connections. All 50 states and the District of Columbia contracted with their local telecommunications utilities for the build-out. Guess what? We don’t have millions of homes with fiber do we? They all failed. The telcos made billions.

The $200 Billion Rip-Off: Our broadband future was stolen.
Over the decade from 1994-2004 the major telephone companies profited from higher phone rates paid by all of us, accelerated depreciation on their networks, and direct tax credits an average of $2,000 per subscriber for which the companies delivered precisely nothing in terms of service to customers. That’s $200 billion with nothing to be shown for it.

…As just a small example of the way the phone companies took advantage of ineffectual regulation, they charged an average of $1 per month per customer to run Bellcore, the research organization set up to replace Bell Labs after the 1983 split up of AT&T. But when Bellcore was later sold and the profits from that sale distributed to the telephone companies, not to the customers, ALL BUT ONE RBOC CONTINUED THE $1 CHARGE DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT NO LONGER DIRECTLY SUPPORTED ANYTHING.

Broadband in the US is now defined as anything with a download bandwidth of 200 Kbs or greater. Big deal.

Broadband Scandal eBook (406 pages in PDF) Post

Fixing US broadband: $100 billion for fiber to every home

Good Example of a Phone Bill Breakdown