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Who Wins, Who Loses With Broadband Grants

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Congress is debating a stimulus bill that would funnel more than $800 billion into the economy. There are two versions of it wending their way through the legislative houses, so we gathered the key differences, put them in the chart below and pointed out which ISPs and technologies win under each. Regardless of the final version, it’s safe to say that ISPs will want Congress to spend more, and equipment providers will take whatever they can get.

  House Bill Winners Losers Senate Bill Winners Losers
Grants for Broadband $6B     $9B    
Funds The Broadband Data Improvement Act yes consumers, anyone wanting to get data on actual broadband penetration ISPs that don’t want to provide this data yes same as House same as House
Offers Tax Credits no     10 percent for broadband and 20 percent for advanced broadband deployed before Jan. 1, 2011 ISPs, equipment sellers anyone worried about national debt
Basic Broadband Speeds 5 Mbps down/1 Mbps up DSL, cable, Verizon FiOS, other fiber Dial-up, congested cable, DSL that’s far from the node 5 Mbps down/1 Mbps up (only defined for tax credits) same as House same as House
Advanced Broadband Speeds 45 Mbps down/15 Mbps up Comcast (s CMCSA), Verizon (s VZ), smaller all-fiber networks AT&T (s T), Qwest (s Q), smaller fiber-to-the-node and DSL providers; cable companies that aren’t upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0 100 Mbps down/20 Mbps up (only defined for tax credits) Verizon FiOS, other all fiber providers AT&T, Qwest, Comcast (C cmsca), Cox, Time Warner Cable (s TWC), Charter
Basic Wireless Broadband Speeds no     no    
Advanced Wireless Broadband Speeds 3 Mbps down/1Mbps up Clearwire (s CLWR), AT&T’s HSPA+ network, Verizon’s LTE network T-Mobile’s HSPA network, Sprint’s (s s) EVDO network, Pre-WiMAX networks 3 Mbps down/768 kbps up (only defined for tax credits) same as House Consumers, especially those in rural areas only served by wireless. Anyone who wants to upload data over a wireless connection
Net Neutrality Language FCC will define “open access” within 45 days of passage Depends on how it’s defined Depends on how it’s defined Offers “interconnection and nondiscrimination requirements” but no definition Depends on how it’s defined Depends on how it’s defined

20 Responses to “Who Wins, Who Loses With Broadband Grants”

  1. Bill Dollar

    Victor — the point is, no U.S. cable companies currently deploying DOCSIS3.0 are bonding the upstream channels. So while the tech specification allows for a shared upstream allocation of 120Mbps, no provider is using that spec. Over the life of this stimulus tax package (for which the discussion of 100Mbps/20Mbps is relevant) no cable companies using current 3.0 technology will benefit — unless they can slip “Powerboost” speeds in as qualifying.

  2. Brett Glass

    Stacey, you obviously are looking at cellular data and not WISPs. The upload speeds provided by WISPs exceed those provided by cellular carriers and in fact even those provided by cable modems and DSL. I think that you need to learn more about our industry.

  3. The sparset rural areas below 5 people per square mile may be best served by SkySite platforms utilising CDMA or WiMax of LTE when more known on it. Space Data has been active filer in the 700 MHz docket 06-150 on how our Antenna in the Sky (e.g. balloon borne communications constellation drifting with the winds east or west based on time of year at 65-90k feet can provide primary service at modest BBW speeds to unserved fixed and mobile customers plus redundacy for when outages occur.

  4. What other service ? The only other upstream services are control channels for iTV and set top box control. They consume close to 0bits per second on average and in any event can actually run over DOCSIS channels (DSG). That leaves 4x 10Mbps channels (40Mbps) easily for most networks. Admittedly getting more may be network dependent (such as a 5th channel), but 4 is pretty basic. All of the chips out the gate will support 4x upstream channels.

  5. Hi Stacey:

    What I see missing from your research is budget money being proposed for rural broadband deployment and how that will affect Broadband over Powerline initiatives…especially among the many areas served by Rural Electric Cooperatives.


  6. Stacey Higginbotham

    Brett, I strongly believe consumers will lose with upload speeds that are so low. Thanks for the analysis and plan. That’s something I hope gets debated as part of universal access plans. I do wonder what happens with the AWS-3 spectrum under the new administration and how long it will take to pick the issue back up again.

  7. There are many more problems with the bill than are mentioned above. See my comprehensive analysis of the House bill (the Senate bill is, so far, not much different) at

    –Brett Glass

    P.S. — By the way, Stacey, I must take issue with your comment that a subsidy for wireless somehow makes consumers “losers.” Wireless is by far the most cost-effective way of deploying broadband to unserved and underserved areas.

  8. Sprint and Verizon can meet the “Advanced Wireless Broadband” speed requirements using EV-DO Rev-B. It is a technology that alllows CDMA carriers to combine multiple EV-DO Rev-A channels. In 5 MHz of spectrum, it can do peak downlink speeds of 9.3 Mbps and peak uplink of 5.4 Mbps. Alcatel-Lucent, Airvana and Qualcomm demonstrated the technology almost two years ago.

  9. Thank you Stacey, I am really interested in the information that you compiled Stacey. If you have the time, a follow up listing your sources would be very helpful for staying on top of the issue.

  10. Stacey Higginbotham

    Victor, I was looking at the upstream requirements. So far, I have not seen 20 Mbps on DOCSIS 3.0 and haven’t heard of operators focusing on that. Theoretically it is possible, but they would have to take chunks of spectrum from other services.