200 KBPS is Not Broadband

Last year when I was visiting India, I meet with some of the officials of Indian version of FCC, TRAI. They pointed to the FCC definition of broadband as the one they were going to adopt for India as well. I argued with them, passionately trying to explain that it was an ass-backward legacy defined definition of broadband, and India needs to be braver than that, and instead take its cue from South Korea. Their argument was baby steps. Perhaps which explains why they are stuck in the morass of 256 kbps passing as broadband. In fact, I have often said that 256 kbps is nothing more than mid-band, and true broadband doesn’t make its impact felt below 6 megabits per second… at the very least. Here is my op-ed from CBS Marketwatch …. Broadband? What Broadband?

> fatter pipes and faster connections can help Bells reverse that trend and in fact increase their revenues in the process. Phone companies across the world have caught on to this and are busy upgrading their networks to capture the “triple play” customers.

Ironically, this 200 kbps definition of broadband is becoming a noose around our necks. Bruce Kushnick, the founder of Teletruth in an report points out that 13 years ago, the definition of broadband was 45 megabits per second, but then FCC changed it. To 200 kbps. He thinks precisely for those reasons FCC might be inflating the broadband penetration rate data. [Good time to insert your won Enron joke.]

> According to TeleTruth, the U.S. is actually 16th in the world in terms of broadband connectivity. “We’re asking the FCC to use the Telecom Act’s broadband definition — any service capable of delivering HDTV quality video services in two directions … High-speed and advanced should not be included in this definition. Unfortunately, the data presented using words like ‘high-speed’ and ‘advanced services’ do not match the Telecom Act’s definition of broadband — being able to handle high-quality video,” writes Kushnick.

I don’t think the numbers from FCC are inflated since they sync-up with the data provided by phone and cable providers, who face a lot harsher scrutiny that FCC which is a private fiefdom and a political playground for whosoever is in power.


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