|Congressman Serrano Low Speed Lifeline "Absolutely Unacceptable"|
|Monday, 08 February 2010 17:23|
"Is it acceptable that the proposed lifeline broadband program only offer low speeds," I asked Jose Serrano, pointing our the cable and AT&T sponsored plan runs at a tenth the regular speed. "Absolutely not!" the Congressman replied. "Our students need the highest speed possible." NCTA, the cable association, calls their plan "Adoption Plus" or "A+" but it only offers the lowest tier of service, too slow for ordinary TV quality. They've said they'd revise their proposals, but with most of the broadband plan written I haven't heard any change. http://i.ncta.com/ncta_com/PDFs/AdoptionPlus_Overview_12.02.09.pdf
I fear the broadband plan will limit the poor to this kind of "back of the bus" service. In 1999, all the U.S. cable modems ran at 10 megabits. In 2010, Comcast, Cox, and Cablevision have upgraded fifty millions homes to be able to get 50 megabit DOCSIS 3.0, leapfrogging all the telcos except Verizon. It's absurd to suggest 1 megabit as the right speed in 2012. That's especially true because the cablecos have 80% margins on broadband, per Wall Street's Craig Moffett. Bandwidth isn't free, but it's remarkably cheap. The difference in cost fo the carrier of 1 megabit and 10 megabit service is a few dimes. In more competitive countries, like France, everyone gets full speed. Softbank in Japan and Iliad in France have been giving full speed to all customers since about 2002. Iliad offers up to 16 megabits as part of a 30 euro triple play. Their cable rival, Numericable, is now offering 50-100 megabit DOCSIS 3.0, voice to a dozen countries, and a decent TV package for 32 euro, less than $50. If the U.S. had more than cable versus telco, we'd be seeing similar prices here.
We were in the South Bronx at Per Scholas, a community group that has trained thousands for computer jobs. One of their graduates, a Time Warner employee, spoke of the 130 Time Warner employees who had been trained by Per Scholas. The Per Scholas building has free solar powered WiFi on their roof, one of more than 100 installations by Digital Divide Partners supported by One Economy. Decades ago, I worked closely with community groups and know real accomplishments like that are very rare - and almost non-existent among the groups begging for federal broadband money.
Serrano personally maintains his Facebook page and is committed to a decent Internet for all Americans. As he blogged in a different context, "We cannot allow special interests with vast wealth to place their priorities ahead of the American people."