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U.S. Broadband Better Than Reflected in OECD Study, Says FCC Commissioner

in Broadband Data by

By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

WASHINGTON, July 14 – A study about broadband adoption by the Phoenix Center is a better gage of United States deployment than the higher-profile reports of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Republican Federal Communications Commissioner said Monday.

FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate said that the Phoenix Center study, unlike those of OECD, considered the availability of wireless technologies known as Wi-Max and Wi-Fi, and hence provided more complete data about broadband.

The U.S. boasts more than 66,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, more than any other nation in the world, Tate said.

The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies is an academic research organization supported in recent years by Bell telecommunications companies.

Take spoke on Monday at the annual convention of the Organization for the Promotion and Enhancement of Small Telecommunication Companies (OPASTCO), available via a telephone bridge.

In addition to failing account for the wireless technologies, the OECD does also not appropriately consider household sizes and broadband investments by schools and libraries within its figures, Tate said.

Although critical of OECD numbers, which show that America is in 15th place for broadband deployment among OECD member nations, she agreed that the U.S. has “room to improve.”

Under the Phoenix Center methodology measuring broadband “efficiency,” the U.S. ranks 13th place.

Tate also said that rural telecommunications companies’ efforts to provide home video access and services in rural areas should improve broadband within the U.S.

Addressing proposals to conduct a “reverse auction” for the deployment of monies from the government’s universal service fund (USF), a $7 billion pool of money to subsidize telecommunications, Tate said a pilot program would be the best approach. Transparency and a lack of waste and fraud would be required for a reverse auction to be successful, she said.

Tate also spoke about the rural health care program of the USF. Through the rural program, the FCC has spent $470 million to create 69 broadband networks in 42 states, she said.

But Tate also said that “fundamental reform,” including increased contributions, would be required in order to retain the system and make it more efficient.

Such reforms must balance improving telecom infrastructure with customers’ willing to pay for services, she said.

Tate also said that she was “one of the few in D.C.,” who believe the states and localities know better solutions to perplexing problems than the federal government.

Tate concluded her speech by advocating that more companies adopt more environmentally-friendly tactics. The OPASTCO conference runs through Wednesday.

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