Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t write a more necessary (and sarcastic) article about U.S. ISPs’ efforts to craft a nationwide broadband policy than the one over at DSL Reports. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and others have signed onto a plan being pushed by nonprofit group Connected Nation to measure broadband penetration that’s aimed at increasing broadband usage. However, as DSL Reports makes clear, the package is hardly something to cheer about.
As alleged by another not-for-profit organization, Public Knowledge, Connected Nation’s mapping abilities are questionable and much of the group’s efforts go toward selling consumers the services of the larger incumbent carriers. Connected Nation’s ties to AT&T (through BellSouth) set off alarms a few years ago, much the way the embrace of its policies by the ISPs do today. These are the same ISPs currently trying out some very unfriendly consumer tactics, such as tiered broadband and traffic blocking, which makes Connected Nation look like the fox guarding the hen house.
Essentially the ISPs want Connected Nation to take public money and create a map of the U.S. that shows which communities have broadband, and which ones don’t. They want this even though they could just as easily ask the ISPs for that data (after all, some of them have given up a lot more when asked) themselves.
The FCC has let the inmates run the asylum and dictate broadband policy for a long time. Perhaps as broadband becomes more necessary to our entertainment and work, consumers will recognize that these issues are not abstract ones, but rules that affect our ability to get streaming HD content, high-quality medical care in rural areas and other such services that have broader repercussions on our daily lives.