Why The FCC's Broadband Data Is Wrong

from the policy-implications? dept

The FCC's broadband policies lately have clearly been designed to consolidate power of a few large incumbents, at the expense of competition. To support much of this, they use their own data on broadband availability. However, as Broadband Reports is discussing, even the General Accounting Office is pointing out that the FCC's method for measuring broadband penetration is greatly flawed. This isn't new, but the FCC has refused to change, preferring its own problematic numbers in setting broadband policy. The FCC system apparently works by looking to see if anyone in a specific zip code has broadband access, and then determining that the entire zip code has broadband available -- even if this is clearly not the case. That means that even if a provider serves only a small percentage of a region, the entire region may be considered as having broadband available. In cases where there are concerns over whether or not their is real competition with multiple providers, obviously this presents a pretty big problem. People with one or no choices may actually be considered as having multiple choices -- reflecting a competitive environment that does not exist. Considering how much faith people put in the FCC's statistics in setting broadband policy, this methodology isn't just an academic discussion, but one that helps lead to a situation where a lack of real competition is being described in completely opposite terms.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Zach, May 8th, 2006 @ 7:31pm

    Competition? Hah!

    I'm in Texas, where it seems cities or counties (I don't know which), contract out to broadband providers for the entire area covered in domestic homes. Where I live, you can only get Comcast. Where my brother lives, 30 miles away, he can only get Charter. Competition simply doesn't exist in Texas for broadband resources at home.

     

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  2.  
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    Applemachome, May 8th, 2006 @ 8:16pm

    Competition

    I am in a suburb of dallas and I can get Verizon FIOS, Comcast Cable, Verizon DSL, and probably a couple of others including satellite providers if you want to include that, and several people have grandfathered fixed wireless connections from sprint.

     

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    Lucky, May 8th, 2006 @ 10:11pm

    Competition a bad joke

    I am in Montana and we have one singele cable company for the whole state Bresnan paying a premium teir price for basic service OH I forgot there is no pricing teir you only get a basic service for broadband unless you want to really pay out the nose. Yeah if your fortunate enough to live on top of an end office or neighborhood MUX you can get DSL but thats pretty much hand in glove price fixed. Satelite is a joke with the high latency not to mention even more over priced.

     

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  4.  
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    Shel Leader, May 8th, 2006 @ 10:43pm

    Broadband Competition Joke

    Very funny. There is no broadband competition. Most places get their choice of cable or DSL. Two monopolies... no competition.

    Where I live, SBC... sorry ATT is offering basic (not much better than dial-up) for 12.95 per month for the first year. Comcast is competing by offering serivce at 45.00 per month for cable TV customer, and 55.00 per month for non-customers.

    If you want higher speed DSL, you pay as much as cable customers.

     

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  5.  
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    Larkman, May 8th, 2006 @ 11:01pm

    No Choices

    I live on a military base and there is no choice whatsoever for broadband. We have ONE provider, a sub-contractor for Verizon, using cable, not DSL. That is the only broadband choice, unless you want to pay the outrageous satellite prices. We waited forever for broadband and it was an agonizing 2 years before we had access.

     

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  6.  
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    ISP'S?, May 9th, 2006 @ 1:22am

    I livein Califonia and from reading what i have i kinda feel lucky i can get comcast/AT&T(SBC) and what i acctually have is build on the motarola Canopy Technolagy i get wireless DSL competitive price at 49.99 a month for 6Down and 6Up

    Acctually it's more like 5.5 Down and 1.3-1.6 Up

    oh BTW Thats Mega Bits we are talking up to 768K/S Up aand down is my limit but what i get is usually 500-730 K/S Down and 300 K/S Up well i think thats there is worth 49.99 a month

    and yes i have a satilite looking thing on my roof and i dident have to pay for the equipment under contract they own and maintain the equipment

     

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  7.  
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    ISP'S?, May 9th, 2006 @ 1:22am

    I livein Califonia and from reading what i have i kinda feel lucky i can get comcast/AT&T(SBC) and what i acctually have is build on the motarola Canopy Technolagy i get wireless DSL competitive price at 49.99 a month for 6Down and 6Up

    Acctually it's more like 5.5 Down and 1.3-1.6 Up

    oh BTW Thats Mega Bits we are talking up to 768K/S Up aand down is my limit but what i get is usually 500-730 K/S Down and 300 K/S Up well i think thats there is worth 49.99 a month

    and yes i have a satilite looking thing on my roof and i dident have to pay for the equipment under contract they own and maintain the equipment

     

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  8.  
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    Dale Albiston, May 9th, 2006 @ 2:04am

    Land of the free?

    in the uk...

    used to have dail up. 56k link (worked at around 40k normally) ona free phone 0800 number, cost me 10ukp a month, effectivly no limits (2 hour kick off then redial, and a usage cap you coun't reach if you tried (i did)).

    then 300k broadband for 15ukp, later upgraded to 600k for no extra cost. currently looking at a 6.5meg adsl for 27ukp a month.

    it helps we have the one thing you lack stateside, competition of a sort, BT do most of the lines but have to lease them out so we have stacks of ISPs to pick from. plus the cable people (now just one of, with poor coverage).

    it amazes me the situation you suffer over there, mainland UK is ok, mainland europe is meant to be even better, well faster dunno bout the cost.

    over here dialup works just about everywhere, braodband is pretty well covered too, though the speed varies depending on area. prices are cheapish, since anyone charging what you guys pay would go bust here.

     

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  9.  
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    Jordan, May 9th, 2006 @ 3:33am

    Yeah, but...

    When compared to the UK, or even mainland Europe, the US is BIG. Big, big, wide open, rural, sparsely populated. You can still find stretchs of interstate where you had better fill up your gas tank because you'll likely run out before the next exit. (Rural roads are even worse). It makes no sense for broadband companies to put their equipment (especially for DSL) in a spot that would serve, maybe, 2 or 3 households. (And those folks might not know what the Internet even is).

    I'm not saying that the US is all like this...but there are still huge rural areas here. It costs a lot of money to blanket an area with broadband...and if there aren't people under that blanket, it isn't worth it to them.

     

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  10.  
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    Luv2Box, May 9th, 2006 @ 12:20pm

    I'm in Virginia and we are very slowly beginning to have competition. We are pretty much forced to use Cox cable, and let me tell you; if you think Comcast is terrible, try Cox! I want the FCC to get their act together first before they begin fiddling with Internet access.

     

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  11.  
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    jerseygirl, May 9th, 2006 @ 4:37pm

    I'm in NJ--Verizon's home state, no less--and am not-so-patiently waiting for the municipal governments to get their collective acts together to at least allow Verizon to enter the market. I've heard nothing but good things about FiOS and, as it turns out, Comcast is not so much "Comcastic!"

     

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  12.  
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    watcher, May 9th, 2006 @ 8:27pm

    In southern Louisiana, we have access to Cox and Bellsouth, but neither are options I would recommend if I had another choice. Eatel has been growing in the area but seems to be excluded from all of the cities in the area. It's true that the US has vast open areas which may not be able to support more than one high-speed ISP, but lack of competition in more populous markets is unconscionable, and it's more of a threat to the future of the Internet than anything else.

     

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  13.  
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    California Dreamin', May 9th, 2006 @ 9:20pm

    It's not a real surprise that the government's getting involved and typically handling this stuff in the wrong way. In a free-market economy, the best product for the most reasonable price should ultimately win over the cosumer mind. Give the people a choice and let their dollar determine the victor! I, for one, want my dollars spent toward FiSO!!

     

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  14.  
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    California Dreamin', May 9th, 2006 @ 9:21pm

    It's not a real surprise that the government's getting involved and typically handling this stuff in the wrong way. In a free-market economy, the best product for the most reasonable price should ultimately win over the cosumer mind. Give the people a choice and let their dollar determine the victor! I, for one, want my dollars spent toward FiOS!!

     

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  15.  
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    Todd F. Packer, May 10th, 2006 @ 5:33pm

    I'm in PA and I've been following FiOS's progres, as it's slowly creeping into some communities in the Philly area. Hoping that NJ has a huge breakthrough and starts a domino effect, because cable internet is killing me right now.

     

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  16.  
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    Stevens33, May 18th, 2006 @ 6:44am

    Competition

    The kind of compeition that I am really interested in seeing these days is in the cable market. Franchise laws have permitted monopolies for far too long, especially in my home state of New Jersey. Thankfully Verizion is finally putting up a fight to change them.

     

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  17.  
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    Re: ISP'S?, Aug 13th, 2006 @ 2:51pm

    50 buckolas for 6up 6 down, but compared to the broadband market in many other developed nations, you're getting it in the pooper for that price

     

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  18.  
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    Mark, Apr 20th, 2007 @ 5:20am

    Re: Competition? Hah!

    I'm in Texas too and only 30 miles outside a city. We have nothing out here except satellite. But even Wildblue doesn't cover us. Huges does so I'm going to break down and spend way too much for a 1.5 meg connection that I can't actually use as a truly broadband connection (due to their "fair access policy" which throttles you for using "too much").

    Yet my zip code is the same as the small town down the road and AT&T does offer DSL within a small range of the CO. So that means the FCC says I have access to DSL.

    The couple of small towns that have any broadband access don't usually have "choices". They have a broadband provider.

    (For that matter, there's no cell phone competition here either. There is ONE provider that covers this area. I had to terminate my service with a cell company that I had been with for six years because my phone was useless.)

    We're something like 16th among first world nations in broadband penetration and apparently we're that high only because the FCC is lying.

    At this rate, third world countries will be passing us up...

     

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  19.  
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    d. r., Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:15am

    No competition

    I live in Syracuse, New York. For DSL, it's Verizon. Verizon's way or no way. And their service is awful. That's it.

     

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