Latest In Cable Astroturfing: If You Squint, Twist, Spin And Mislead With Apples To Oranges Comparisons, US Broadband Is Great!

from the because-it's-not dept

For the past few months, I’d been pitched a few times from people (often somehow, if in murky ways, connected to the broadband industry) arguing that all those stories about how the US is far behind in broadband is untrue if you just looked at certain states. The basic argument is that since the US is so large, it’s not fair to compare it to, say, South Korea. Instead, they claim, if you just look at a few states in the US, those states compare quite well to this country or that country. Of course, to make a total fruit basket out of mixed metaphors, this is pretty blatant cherry picking apples to compare to oranges. We haven’t written any of those stories, but apparently someone went and created a misleading infographic to try to make the point on a site called “the Connectivist.”

However, as Chris Morran brilliantly dissects over at Consumerist, the whole argument is bogus:

The only way to do a true apples to apples comparison would be to look at the data for areas with similar conditions, including population size and area, which the Connectivist doesn?t do.

The site simply glosses over the fact that while broadband in the U.S. is improving, it?s still not a world leader in deploying high-speed Internet access to its citizens.

Even though nearly three-quarters of the U.S. has access to what the FCC currently defines as ?broadband,? meaning at least 4Mbps downstream, that?s still not a high enough percentage to get it into the top 10 globally. In fact, that percentage barely puts the U.S. in the 40 of all nations.

Likewise, only 39% of Americans have access to 10 Mbps service, which is what many people now consider the minimum acceptable standard for broadband. That ranks higher, putting the U.S. within the top 15 worldwide, but still pales in comparison to world leaders like Sweden (56%), the Netherlands (52%), and Romania (50%).

Morran notes, sarcastically, that the Connectivist seems to ignore all of this… and then suggests a reason why:

Maybe it has something to do with an organization you won?t see mentioned on the Connectivist until you get to its ?About? page, where it just happens to mention that ?The Connectivist is an online magazine created in partnership with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.?

Ah yes, the NCTA, better known as the major trade/lobbying group for the cable industry. The very same NCTA that recently tried to set up a painfully awkward attempt at sounding cool and young to attract younger people to its anti-net neutrality stance — and when confronted with the fact it was behind that campaign, said, “What led you to the conclusion this is an NCTA effort?” At least this time it’s officially buried in the fine print, but really, NCTA, if your argument is so compelling, why is it that you always have to set up fake groups to push it?

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Companies: connectivist, ncta

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Comments on “Latest In Cable Astroturfing: If You Squint, Twist, Spin And Mislead With Apples To Oranges Comparisons, US Broadband Is Great!”

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Geno0wl (profile) says:

Thanking I actually live in Ohio

Local Telco here is actually installing Fiber across the city. Offering 1 Gbps for $90 a month against TWC.

After actually getting Fiber with dedicated speeds(no “up to” BS) I will never go back to cable.
Trying to pull in customers with compelling products and actual competition. It is amazing!

Anonymous Coward says:

If the cable industry had been smart, they’d have hired critics like Mike Masnick and Carl Bode Long ago. Comcast certainly knows the benefits of buying out one’s enemies. Though in the internet age, taking out one critic just means that another will soon pop up and take his place. But still, it’s probably much cheaper than buying out competing firms and then shutting them down and then paying off the politicians to allow it to happen.

But it does make one wonder, what would happen if Comcast were to become Techdirt’s and DSLreports primary advertiser? Would the content change much? Well, if history is any guide, it all depends on what’s more important, money or respect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Techdirt has, after all, lost major advertisers before because they didn’t like Techdirt’s coverage of a pet issue.”

That’s always welcome news, regardless of whatever constitutes a “major” advertiser (>5% of revenue? 10%?). Any names or story links you might know of?

The notable issue is whenever only one or two advertisers carries the whole operation. I’m thinking of the tobacco industry decades ago, whose massive advertising flow of dollars literally had all forms of commercial media by the balls.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s always welcome news, regardless of whatever constitutes a “major” advertiser (>5% of revenue? 10%?). Any names or story links you might know of?

I’m not going to directly name names because, honestly, I don’t think that’s fair. It wasn’t a public situation — it was a series of discussions that happened in private, some of which I discussed in this post:

And, fwiw, it turned out to be significantly more than 50% of our ad revenue. Thankfully, we don’t only rely on ad revenue to stay in business, but I will say that thanks to the SOPA coverage we went from ad revenue being a profit center to ad revenue not even covering our server costs in most months. Basically, we had a long term deal with certain sponsors that kept the site profitable — and they all went away.

If we only had to rely on ad revenue these days, we’d have gone out of business a long time ago. So, no, we’re not the types to cave in to the demands of advertisers.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But it does make one wonder, what would happen if Comcast were to become Techdirt’s and DSLreports primary advertiser?

Money can buy many things, but one of the things it can’t buy is a solid reputation built up over many years. The people who run TD know this, so I imagine even in that scenario not much would change(except perhaps some not-so-happy emails from angry Comcast reps the next time they were mentioned).

Anonymous Coward says:

Anyone notice the infographics mention of Kansas as raising its average speed by 90%. Notice how they don’t mention that that is probably due to Google Fiber in Kansas City pushing out the upper range of the available speeds? I’m sure the big ISPs that aren’t Google would be quite happy to let Google spend money on infrastructure and then use Google’s progress in their own advertising statistics to imply that they are doing substantially more than they actually are.

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