For the second time this year, one of the major defenders of the cable and telephone companies has admitted that DSL cannot provide the Internet access we need as a nation. This admission validates our research as well as that of Susan Crawford and others that show most Americans are effectively stuck with a cable monopoly.
On April 7, 2014, the Diane Rehm show hosted another discussion on telecommunications policy with guests that included Jeffrey Eisenach, the Director of the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.
During that show, Eisenach stated, "The vast majority of Europeans still only have DSL service available, which we in the United States consider really almost an obsolete technology now."
Interestingly, Eisenach and others have repeatedly claimed that there is no market failure in the US - that we have plenty of choices. But most Americans have to choose between what most now admit is an obsolete DSL product and cable. Eisenach would add 4G LTE as another competitor, but as we have noted many times, the average household would have to pay hundreds of dollars per month to use their LTE connection as a replacement for DSL or cable.
The average household uses something like 40-55 GB of data per month. Given the bandwidth caps from LTE providers, the overage charges quickly result in a bill of approximately $500 or more depending on the plan. This is why the overwhelming majority of the market uses mobile wireless as a complement, not substitute to wired networks.
We are left with one conclusion: there is no meaningful competition or choice for most of us in the residential telecommunications market. And no real prospect of a choice either as the cable companies only grow stronger.
This is not the first time Eisenach admitted that DSL is insufficient for our needs. Back in January, on Diane's show, he again used Europe's dependence on DSL as evidence that it was falling behind: "They are reliant on these 20th century copper networks which have real limits on the amount of speed that they can deliver."
Even those who only want the private sector to deliver services are starting to admit that the existing providers are failing us. What more do communities need to take an active role in ensuring their needs are met?
One major barrier to providing universal access to fast, reliable and affordable Internet service–long recognized by ILSR, telecom experts, and a growing number of ordinary citizens–are the monopoly-friendly preemption laws that either outright ban or erect insurmountable barriers to municipal broadband. Here’s a look at what three of the 17 states with preemption laws are saying about those barriers in their BEAD Five Year Action Plans.
A massive coalition of more than 300 broadband policy experts and organizations have written a letter to the U.S. government, warning that smaller broadband providers, nonprofits, and municipalities will be elbowed out of an historic $42.45 billion broadband grant program without some notable changes to program rules. BEAD program rules currently require grant recipients to obtain a letter of credit (LOC) from a bank, collateralized by cash or cash-equivalent. According to the coalition’s letter to lawmakers, such requirements present unnecessary obstacles for smaller ISPs and cash-strapped municipalities
Berthoud is the latest Colorado community to explore community broadband alternatives to expand public access to affordable fiber. Currently in the process of crafting a request for quote (RFQ), the city says it hopes to make its final determination by November and have a preliminary plan in place by the end of the year.
The key for states to unlock their portion of the $42.5 billion in federal BEAD funds is the submission and approval of their Five Year Action Plans and Final Proposal. Today, we will look at two states (Maine and Louisiana) and follow up with the others as we are getting a clearer picture of how each state intends to put this historic infusion of federal funds to use.
Officials in Loveland and Timnath, Colorado recently announced the ratification of an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that greenlight’s a plan to bring ubiquitous, affordable high-speed Internet access to yet another community in the Centennial State, as an increasing number of Colorado cities and towns embrace municipal broadband after years of frustration with the inadequate, high-priced service from the region’s monopoly incumbents.
Decorah, Iowa is moving forward on a long-percolating plan to expand the city’s core fiber ring to provide affordable broadband access to long-neglected residents and businesses. While the project has been discussed for years, local officials tell ISLR the project gained renewed momentum during peak COVID, and is creeping closer to launch. While contracts are still being finalized, the city hopes to spend somewhere around $12 to $15 million to deliver fiber to all 3,000 potential subscriber locations.