I happened across a post on Verizon’s Policy Blog this afternoon and had to chuckle. The entire post is an effort to refute statistics used by organizations that claim the U.S. is falling behind in speed or has really pricey broadband compared with other nations. We all know that statistics can lie, but this particular diatribe is hilarious coming from a company that has stood in the way of collecting meaningful broadband data for years, most recently by suggesting the government pay a nonprofit to collect it. From the Verizon post:
The statistics cited regarding broadband speed, penetration and pricing are confusing, often compare apples and oranges, and in most cases don’t measure really important factors such as who is deploying next generation technologies most rapidly. Mark Twain had a very earthy saying about statistics – “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics”. He meant this as a humorous observation about how easy it is to assume numbers are always right. But it is not the numbers per se but rather how they are used and how comparisons are made that is key.
So while the post knocks the numbers and reports available, Verizon, AT&T and other carriers know the penetration, costs and speeds of most of the broadband users in the nation — and continue to fight giving out those numbers. So, to Mark Twain’s “earthy” aphorism I would add, yes, there are lies, damned lies and spin.