by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 12th 2007 5:05pm
Every time people point out how woefully behind the US is in both broadband penetration and competition, people would point to FCC data suggesting that there's plenty of competition and penetration in broadband. There was just one minor problem. The FCC's numbers were not accurate. That's because the methodology used by the FCC was to simply look at an entire zip code, and if a single house in that zip code was offered broadband access by a company, that entire zip code was judged to have broadband access from that company. In some areas this might be pretty accurate -- but in many others it wasn't accurate at all. For example, where I used to live, in the heart of Silicon Valley, AT&T told me that I was too far from the CO to get DSL access. Yet, according to the FCC, I had plenty of competition for broadband because DSL was available to me. Last year, the GAO explained all this, but the FCC hasn't changed its methodology, despite the GAO slamming it a second time for the inaccurate numbers. Back in May a Senator proposed that the FCC be required to accurately count broadband numbers, and now a House subcommittee has approved a similar plan. That's all good, but at what point does someone point out how ridiculous it is that our lawmakers need to spend their time passing laws to tell the FCC to actually count broadband numbers rather than using clearly misleading and inaccurate data? Shouldn't the FCC want to do that on its own? As for the FCC, perhaps instead of writing editorials for the Wall Street Journal about how competitive US broadband is, maybe they should actually be working on figuring out of that's true.
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