Broadband for America meeting notes

Wednesday morning of the conference, Michael Sauers, Patrick Sweeney and I took off for Capitol Hill to attend the Broadband of America meeting briefing, “America’s New National Pastime: The Innovative and Competitive Internet Marketplace” on Capitol Hill in one of the House Buildings.

Michael has more notes over on his blog, as well as pictures from the event. Thanks to Patrick for getting the word out to the #cildc twitter stream on Saturday about this!


Rich Galen

Technology has changed a lot since Rich Galen came to Washington. Modern computer systems brought ability to deal with constituents in a far more meaningful way.

Former Senator John Sununu

BB for america is an organization that is an organization for sound BB deployment and access.

Motivation is simple: deployment for high speed, quality deployment. Important economically, national security. Today high dependency on high speed broadband in the future.

Members are state based community organizations, manufactures of telecom industry, healthcare, other stakeholders.

US is really a bb success story. Bb is backbone of US success, building vibrant economy.

80 million BB subscribes, 200 million wireless subscribers.

US leads in 4G LTE deployment.

WWW Index report — US ranks 2.

Policy is why US is leading. Light regulatory touch has helped this. Started back in the Clinton admin. private investment in this infratustrature is key to its strength and success in our economy.

Predictable, simple legal framework for encouraging electronic commerce. Approach that has been sustained through FCC in national broadband plan. Internet should be fueled by private sector innovation and investment.

Economic dollars at stake? Back to 1996, Over $1 trillion invested in state of the art BB networks.

During most recent economic downturn, since 2008, over 250 billion has been invested in high speed broadband networks. Job creation. Meaningful investment into meaningful job creation. in 2011, wired/wireless investment increased 24%.

The policies that have served us well in the 1990s and 2000s that light regulatory touch needs to continue to happen.

Rob Atkinson, President, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

“The Whole Picture: Where America’s Broadband Networks Really Stand”

Why does this matter? debates abt US BB policy are premised on whether the US broadband system is performing well compared to other nations.

Four dimensions about BB Policy:

  • Deployment: what share of postal addresses does the network cover
  • Adoption: What share of households subscribe
  • Performance: Speed/Download speed
  • Price: cost to use service

Deployment: 3rd highest rate of wired intermodal in the world

  • 96.3 percent have access to some form of wired bb
  • 96% have access to cable modem….
  • 4% who don’t have
  • OECD Fiber (we don’t lead in Fiber deployment) Japan/Korea have dense populations. Smaller countries.

Adoption: The US ranks 15 of 33 OECD nations on adoption.

  • 88.6% adoption by US computer-owning homes
  • It’s that people don’t have computers….
  • Reasons for non adoption: Pew survey stats: availability; price no computer; usability; relevance (people don’t get why they need the Internet)
  • America leads the world in adoption.
  • Compared to other nations, we have a larger percentage of lower income populations.


  • Speed Overall: 22nd in speed. 29.6 mBps peak rate.
  • American speeds are improving faster than world-leading speeds.
  • Speed: 6th in OECD in % of users w connections faster than 10 MBps

Price: entry level pricing: 2nd lowest in OECD

  • The US rank in prices for higher speed is lower [but what can you really do on Low speed internet]
  • US broadband prices are progressive.
  • Factors for price — not excess process: US bb providers are less profitable than EU15 providers.
  • low price high speed nations have committed heavy subsidies to private firms
  • (but adoption rate, at least in japan isn’t different than us)
  • Factors for high costs: 27th lowest rate of urbanicity
  • costs of bb are mbps/miles

Conclusions: is a facilities based deployment leaders in cable, fiber, and LTE & others…..


  • internet engagement, digital literacy, computer ownership
  • subsidy programs for poor and rural residents, following connect for america model
  • use of smart auctions to locate subsidies (more spectrum)
  • spectrum remains scarce due to govt over allocation

Larry Irving (Irving Info Group strategic planning group):

Lifeline phones.

digital divide

2003 — only 15% were on bb on home.

August 2012: 94% online; 74% on broadband.

Citizens on tribal lands, rural areas, and minorities are much less likely to have broadband access.

Less than 2% take Internet from dialup today.

Latinos and blacks are much more likely to depend on mobile

76% latinos; 70% blacks; 60% whites

Trend of mobile use — strong in younger minorities. If you didn’t start with a wired laptop, would you get broadband. There’s been a paradigm shift people aren’t looking. Young people aren’t getting wired phones any more. Just mobiles.

Why aren’t we giving kids mobile devices? iPhones, iPads.

Recipe: lets meet people where they are instead of dragging them where they need to be.

  1. 1. How are we going to get bb tech/wired/wireless into where it isn’t?
  2. 2. How are we going to get web more relevant to more americans?
  3. 3. More spectrum available
  4. 4. Fed govt users off spectrum so it is used for private use.
  5. 5. National Info infrastructure for action (trying to figure out what the Internet was going to be)

Classic ways in the past for action

  1. 1. private sector investment/competition
  2. 2. univ service
  3. 3. promoting innovation/application
  4. 4. eseemless use and interaction
  5. 5. security
  6. 6. improving management of freq. spectrum

We’re at an inflection point. We can continue to drive this vision on classic principles, and go in the wrong direction, or…. Go somewhere else?

Hance Haney — Discovery Institute, Democracy and Technology Program

Couldn’t follow this guy. it was a written piece that was read. I know it was important information, but the presentation style/writing difference made a difference trying to process what he was saying/reading.

Conclusions: industry dictated by moore’s law, gilder’s law. therefore, it only gets easier to deploy new tech, new devices, etc. the problem: legacy regulation: federal, state level (pre-existing tech). AT&T trial runs to next gen services to see the new regulations that are needed.

Ev Ehrlich. Former undersecretary for commerce on Clinton

econ benefits of broadband

Moore’s Law outcomes….

3rd one he mentioned: Changes way things are organized to production.

Ability to track info within firms.

The web has become an avatar of markets. It is a representation of markets. To be in the market of the world is to be on the web.

The economic benefit we get from broadband is going to depend on the ubiquity of access to it.

When digital divide was popularized by larry Irving and ev ehrlich, it was about the fear of those getting shut out, the new problem solving, cognition, reference, skills that are inherent in the bb world. more opportunity to networks, passport to economic citizenship around the globe.

Very tempting to say hobby farm

Let consumers drive development. many people don’t need 100mb delivered to their home. many people don’t want a wired connection. wireless fits their lifestyle.

Q&A — just listened — lots of questions about the spectrum issues

This requires a separate blog post (that I’ll write on the plane), but I was able to ask a question at the very end of the session about libraries’ role in the relevance and skills factors for lack of broadband adoption, as well as mention the EveryoneOn and Connect2Compete programs. The responses from the panel were varied (see Michael’s notes for those), but it still was quite thrilling to speak up on behalf of libraries.