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U.S. Broadband Deployment and Speeds are Beating Europe’s, Says Scholar Touting ‘Facilities-based Competition’

in Broadband Data/Broadband Updates/Broadband's Impact/FCC/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2014 – In spite of press reports to the contrary, U.S. broadband coverage is not falling behind European levels of service, academic Christopher Yoo said on Wednesday at the National Press Club.

“It seems like every other week there’s a new infographic or news story that talks about how the U.S. is falling behind in broadband speeds, we don’t have fiber to the home, and telecom companies are rolling in the profits while consumer prices soar,” said Doug Brake, telecommunications policy analyst with The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, setting up the topic tackled in by Yoo in his presentation.

On the contrary, said Yoo, the founding director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition, the U.S. led in many broadband metrics in 2011 and 2012. And, he said, it is precisely the absence of a “one size fits all” regulatory structure that has been been driving technological innovation forward in the marketplace.

In other words, according to Yoo, the American approach to facilities-based competition – where cable companies and telephone companies compete through rival communications networks –has succeeded.

While the findings may be “surprising” to some, Yoo said they proved the importance of examining the best approach to broadband regulation based on “real world data.”

The notion that “fiber is the only answer” to affordable high-speed broadband is a misconception, he said. Countries emphasizing fiber over rival technologies – including Sweden and France – were among the worst broadband performers.

In the U.S., 82 percent of households received broadband at speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), versus 54 percent in Europe. In rural areas, the difference was even greater: 48 percent in the U.S., versus 12 percent in Europe. The five countries that did beat U.S. coverage of greater than 25 Mbps (including Denmark and the Netherlands) are compact, urbanized regions with greater population densities.

Additionally, even looking at fiber-based technologies, the U.S. is outperforming Europe, he said. Fiber coverage in the U.S. went from 17 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2012. In Europe, fiber coverage went from 10 percent in 2011 to 12 percent in 2012.

And, based on the measurement of telecommunications investment per household, the U.S. number is more than double that of Europe: $562 versus $244 in the old world.

And, he said, American users consumed 50 percent more bandwidth than Europeans in 2011 and 2012.

“The best measure of how much a network is really worth is how much you use it,” Yoo said. “It’s great to have a very fast car, but unless you use it, it’s not really doing very much for you.”

One area where the U.S. could see improvement is in the area of broadband adoption, Brake said. That demonstrates continued need to demonstrate value in broadband for consumers.

Yoo agreed: “Availability is only a part of the question. There are plenty of people who have broadband available to them who are choosing not to adopt.”

Moderator Gerry Faulhaber added: “As regulators, we can mandate coverage, we can mandate buildout. What we can’t do is mandate people to use it.”

Keeping a series of tiered rates for broadband service is exactly what America’s broadband rollout needs, said Brake. That not only encourages consumers to purchase internet at lower introductory rates, it also efficiently places the burden on those who wish to pay more for higher-speed service. This helps to recuperate costs for networks.

“Is it better to provide 75 to 100 Mbps to 80 to 90 percent of the population, or one Gigabit per second to 10 to 20 percent of the population?”

Blair Levin, former director of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, and now communications a science fellow at the Aspen Institute, said that comparisons with Europe doesn’t change America’s objective to build deeper fiber, use broadband to improve the delivery of goods and services, and connect more users.

“Which activity is more productive – looking at oneself in the mirror and asking, ‘do these jeans make me look fat?’ or going to the gym? Focusing on actions that improve one’s condition is better than wondering about how one should appear relative to others,” said Levin.

Berkman Center Report on Next Generation Connectivity Criticizes U.S. Policy Choices

in Broadband Stimulus/National Broadband Plan by

Editor’s Note: The following is a BroadbandCensus.com summary and analysis of the recent report, “Next Generation Connectivity,” released by the Berkman Center, and commissioned by Federal Communications Commission.

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2009 – The main purpose of the report by the Berkman Center at Harvard University, commissioned by the Federal Communications Commission, was to examine global broadband policies and determine how the United States may adopt principles employed by the rest of the world as a means of expanding the current state of domestic broadband. Among nations, there seem to be two different overarching goals, ubiquity and capacity.

Many European nations seem to be reaching for a goal of ubiquity rather than capacity. While they do seek to obtain high-speed connections, their first goal has been to achieve mass adoption and availability of broadband. This ubiquity was a key portion of Japan’s early broadband planning, but now it has shifted toward higher-capacity connectivity.

The U.S., said the Berkman report, has never had a properly-organized and centralized plan to promote either ubiquity or capacity. However, with the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Universal Service Fund, it seems like the choice is being made toward ubiquity.

Open access seems to be another trend which the U.S. has not significantly participated. The Berkman report suggests that this has lead to mediocre broadband performance.

“Our most surprising and significant finding is that “open access” policies—unbundling, bitstream access, collocation requirements, wholesaling, and/or functional separation—are almost universally understood as having played a core role in the first generation transition to broadband in most of the high performing countries; that they now play a core role in planning for the next generation transition; and that the positive impact of such policies is strongly supported by the evidence of the first generation broadband transition.” read the report.

The U.S. largely abandoned policies of open access in 2001 when cable became the dominant form of high-speed access, and in 2003, when the FCC’s “triennial review” deregulated the application of common carrier rules to high-speed connectivity offered by Bell companies.

However, it appears that open access not only for wireline, but also wireless access, is one of the main factors in gaining ubiquity of access, said the Berkman report. Even nations that initially have eschewed the practice – such as Switzerland and New Zealand – are beginning to accept it now. The main benefit of open access is that it lowered the barrier to entry for new market entrants, which in turn created competition and caused speeds to increase as a method of competition.

The investment of $7.2 billion by the U.S. is comparable on a per-capita basis with most of the rest of the world. But the investment does not mirror the style of most of the rest of the world.

In Asia the investments were of higher quantity and with an eye toward long-term investments. Additionally, these investments were not just direct investments. Rather, they were tax breaks and low-interest loans. France has not invested any money directly but has just created a highly competitive environment.

Broadband applications are another major factor of adoption which the U.S. seems to be lagging, said the Berkman report. The rest of the world seems to be actively developing applications which require high speed connections which include: smart meters, home based telehealth, transportation controls.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks the U.S. as 15th in broadband penetration, which is around middle of rankings. Many people have claimed that the OECD methodology is biased against the U.S. since it counts penetration per 100 inhabitants. While the U.S. does have larger household sizes than the rest of the world and many households have a single high speed connection, according to the research done by Berkman, a change from per 100 inhabitants to per household would not significantly change where the U.S. ranks.

In addition, by using households the use of broadband by business would not be included. However, it is important to collect both per resident and per household, to determine if policies are reaching both the business and household populations.

While high speed access and ubiquitoU.S. access are both high on the agenda for most nations, the next generation of access lies in mobile broadband. The rise in the sale of smart-phones over the past few years shows the public’s unrelenting demand for access outside of the home and office.

While Wi-Fi hotspots have been popular for years access everywhere is really what the public wants. Yet again though the U.S. does not rank high: “On mobile broadband the United States is a weak performer. On nomadic connectivity we do better, but are not a particularly high performer.” (“Nomadic connectivity” refers to connectivity through Wi-Fi hotspots.) Using OECD data, the U.S. ranks 19th in third-generation wireless subscriptions.

One of the major problems faces by consumers is the disparity between advertised and actual speeds. The Berkman center was able to access data from the speed test company Ookla. This data set included 41 million people from OECD nations. They found “that Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands are particularly high-performing countries. Actual test data particularly calls attention to Sweden’s very high performance in fact, much more so than its advertised speeds alone would suggest, and confirms Portugal’s surprisingly high performance on advertised speeds (by comparison to penetration) as consonant with high actually measured speeds. Moreover, from a U.S. specific perspective, actual measurement benchmarks look better for average download speeds, but worse for highest speeds. In average download speeds, the U.S. moves from the top of the fourth quintile to the middle of the third quintile.”

First County to Declare Broadband a Legal Right: Not Finland, but Switzerland

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA/Universal Service by

October 31, 2009 – Finland made headlines earlier this month in declaring that broadband had become a legal right. While this startled some people, the Finns were not the first people to declare this – the Swiss were. Further, in 2003, at the World Summit on the Information Society, a declaration of principles was drafted and signed by a number of nations around the world, including the United States.

While Finland is the first nation to declare broadband a right, many nations around the world have developed plans to have universal service within the next 5 years. Finland’s plan is to have 100 percent coverage by 2015 at 100 Megabits per second, but the parliament has yet to officially approve the recommendation.

The United Kingdom announced through their Digital Britain plan to have 100 percent coverage by 2012 with a minimum speed of 2 Mbps. Germany has also announced full coverage by the end of 2010: 75 percent of all households are to have speeds of 50 Mbps by 2014, and then 100 Mbps for 100 percent of households by 2018. France also announced a plan to get universal coverage by 2012.

All of those plans were established in the past three years. Switzerland, however, made their declaration in 2006. The nation In guaranteed minimum speed for all citizens of 100 Kilobits per second (Kbps), with a price limit of 69 Swiss Francs.

While the speed seems low,the plan did include a reexamination of the plan in 2010 for a speed increase.

Also, all of these broadband plans are distinct and are extensions of existing universal telephone service obligations.

With the creation of federal government’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Infrastructure Program, many were wondering if the administration would follow the Europeans and declare a minimum standard . They have not. More embarrassingly, residential broadband service is not even a main portion of the universal service fund.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

NTIA's Lawrence Strickling Describes Role of BTOP in Broadband Plan, Innovation Strategy

in Broadband Stimulus/Broadband's Impact/NTIA/Premium Content by

NEW YORK, October 26, 2009 – NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling, speaking at a telecommunications conference here on Friday, said that a national broadband plan is key to the innovation strategy of the Obama administration, along with expanding research and development, increasing education and providing a strong technological ecosystem.

With regard to the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program funding program, he said that not every good project would be funded, as there simply are not enough funds. At the same time, he said he wanted to make sure that the agency did not fund any bad projects.

Strickling was speaking at the Columbia University Institute for Tele-Information held its annual State of Telecom Conference: attendees ranged from policy makers, academics, and industry professionals from around the world. With a little more than 100 days to go until the due date for the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband plan is due in February 20101, this year’s theme was “National Next-Generation Broadband Plans.”

Robert Pepper, Chair of CITI’s advisory board and vice president of global technology policy at Cisco Systems, opened the event with a speech on how the developing world once looked at the industrial world as a model of how information and communications technology could be used to help their citizenry with the added benefit of boosting local economic conditions. Now, the industrial world is looking to the developing world to determine which projects are best for economic stimulation.

The first panel of the day, entitled “National Broadband Plans” had representatives from the FCC, France’s Ministry of Research and State Secretariat for Digital Economy, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, along with other international officials.

Scott Wallsten, economic director of the FCC’s omnibus broadband initiative, described the intersection between the national broadband plan and the rest of the economy – including the “smart grid,’ health information and other integrated uses.

Wallsten also emphasized that broadband is a general-purpose technology which generates direct benefits and boosts the economy and society in general through the advancements made by using the technology and through peripheral usages.

Matthias Kurth, President of Germany’s Federal Network Agency, described his country’s universal broadband strategy, which seeks to bring all citizens a 1 Megabit per second (1 Mbps) connection by 2010 and an ambitious 50 Mbss connection by 2014.

Currently approximately 98% of the citizens have access to the internet, he said. Kurth highlighted the principal of funding connectivity where competition is not probable and to always remain technologically neutral in support of access.

Additionally, policy makers must look at all possible methods of connections, he said. While wireless may inherently be slower than a wired connection the goal is to bring people connectivity, once they see the value of being online they will demand a faster connection which will lead to increased investment and new wired connections. He also talked about the government encouraging industry to share installation and infrastructure costs.

Britain’s Derek Wyatt, a member of parliament and co-chairman of Parliament’s All Party Communications Group, described the proposed universal broadband obligation of the British government, 2 Mbps by 2012; which will cost around U.S. $300 million. Wyatt’s noted how his organization, Citizens Online, sent volunteers to help those individuals who have not been online understand the different uses of the Internet and how it will help them.

Strickling was the keynote speaker of the event. His general theme was about how BTOP was progressing and the use of the Internet in citizen participation in government. In addition to the role of broadband in the administration’s innovation strategy, and the BTOP program, Strickling also talked about looking at projects that can sustain themselves after they stop receiving federal funding – and those which can be replicated in other parts of the country with the use of state or private funds.

The second panel of the day was “Public/Private Finance: Cost and Benefit.” It looked at how government funding affects private investment in telecommunications. The main theme, which the panel expressed, was that government funding must be spent efficiently and with an eye on “crowding out,” or the notion that government spending should not keep private sector investment out of the market.

The panel said it was clear that some areas of the country which will not sustain a competitive broadband market should be the targets of investment. Additionally, they said, regulation must be completely evaluated to determine how it will affect future funding. The other major point made by the panel was that the last-mile is not the only limiting factor, and that middle-mile and backbone also need to get government support to prevent bottle necks. The need for information and communications technology investment was best displayed by Leonard Waverman, Dean of the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, who showed that 1 additional broadband line per 100 people increases productivity by 0.1 percent and that in the U.S., broadband expansion of 2.5 lines per 100 people adds 0.25 percent per year GDP growth.

The final panel of the day focused on emerging market structure, which talked about how ubiquity may not be the final solution – and that applications are really what will drive adoption.

In a presentation by Dr. Raul Katz from Columbia, the impact of broadband on jobs, discounting the initial construction jobs, was considered. Katz found that while some jobs will be lost due to labor moving from areas of no service to those with service in the long run employment increases overall as new business learn how to adopt broadband into day to day practices.

Jonathan Lienbenau from the London School of Economics explored the indirect effects of broadband on energy and transportation. The largest effect that these networks will have is improving the overall business environment not in the direct creation of jobs in the deployment of the network.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

Will Copyright Issues Interfere With the National Broadband Plan?

in Broadband's Impact by

WASHINGTON, October 7, 2009 – A panel discussion last week about what can be done to protect copyrighted content over the Internet united discussions of intellectual property protection with the congressionally-mandated effort to create a national broadband plan.

The possibility of a national broadband plan being adopted in the coming year raised the possibility that content may be more readily available to consumers. This might mean that piracy might become more widespread, too.

Speaking at a “digital breakfast” held on October 1 by Gotham Media Ventures, moderator Paul Sweeting, a media and technology consultant, cited a French law putting consumers on notice that broadband access may be denied if they are caught downloading illegal content.

According to Michael O’Leary, executive vice president of governmental affairs at Motion Picture Association of America, there are various ways of dealing with copyright-infringing content, some more effective than others.

“By the time a law is in effect [to deal with illegal downloading], the technology has become so advance that the law becomes obsolete,” said O’Leary.

There used to be a time in which it would take people hours or even days to download any form of content from the internet, but now, “a movie will be released Friday and it will be online by 2 a.m. on Saturday,” said O’Leary.

“People want innovation faster, but they don’t want to go through the process,” said Jon Baumgarten, a partner at Proskauer Rose.

Panelists referred to the pro-innovation manta of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, who is ultimately responsible for implementing the national broadband plan.

Peter Jaszi, professor of law and faculty director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University, said that an outpouring of creativity has been wrought by the Internet.

This innovation motivates actions, all types of actions. “At the time, no one knew how to punish the people considering the advancement of technology,” Jaszi said.

Panelists differed on the effectiveness of filters designed to screen out copyrighted content.

To Bill Rosenblatt, founder of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, two such techniques including “fingerprinting” a digital file and appending it with a digital “watermarking.”

Digital watermarks have proven controversial over the past several years, and they are seen as easier to use with music than with movies.

“These two [techniques] have efficiency, accuracy and privacy,” said Rosenblatt.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

CWA Publishes State-by-State Download Speeds. How About Carrier-by-Carrier Speeds?

in Expert Opinion by

Blog Entries

August 15 – The Communications Workers of America’s Speed Matters blog this week published its state-by-state report on download speeds in the United States.

According to the report, the median download speed for the nation was 2.3 Megabits per second (Mbps), which it compared to median download speeds in Japan (63 Mbps), South Korea (49 Mbps), Finland (21 Mbps), France (17 Mbps) and Canada (7.6 Mbps). The median upload speed for the United States was 425 Kilobits per second (Kbps), which the report notes is “far too slow for patient monitoring or to transmit large files such as medical records.”

The CWA report was prepared based upon 229,000 tests in the United States from May 2007 to May 2008 – a truly impressive total.

BroadbandCensus.com is also taking speed tests as part our effort to map out broadband availability, competition, speeds, prices and service quality. While we have collected thousand of speed test results since we launched our web site in January 2008, we are still far short of the numbers of Speed Matters.

The new Speed Matters total tests compares with 80,000 speed tests taken from September 2006 to May 2007 and used in CWA’s July 2007 report.

The July 2007 report found a median download speed of 1.97 Mbps, and a median upload speed of 371 Kbps. The slight improvement from 2007 to 2008 means that “at this rate, it will take the United States more than 100 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in Japan,” according to the August 2008 report.

This current CWA report broke its current totals down state-by-state, from California, with 22,000 tests, to North Dakota, with 231 such tests. It used median download and median upload speeds to rank the states.

In terms of downloads, the top ten states in the CWA report were: Rhode Island (6.8 Mbps), Delaware (6.7 Mbps), New Jersey (5.8 Mbps), Virginia (5.0 Mbps), Massachusetts (4.6 Mbps), New York (4.1 Mbps), Florida (4.0), Maryland (4.0 Mbps), Georgia (3.0 Mbps), and the state of Washington (3.0 Mbps).

The internet company Akamai has also produced a state-by-state report about download speeds, ranking the percentage of states with greater than 5 Mbps for the first quarter of 2008. Five of CWA’s top-10 download states also made Akamai’s top-10 list: Delaware (1st place, at 60 percent), Rhode Island (2nd, at 42 percent), New York (3rd, at 36 percent), Massachusetts (8th, at 29 percent) and Maryland (9th, at 27 percent).

The remaining top-10 Akamai states were: Nevada (4th, at 34 percent), Oklahoma (5th, at 33 percent), Connecticut (6th, at 32 percent), New Hampshire (7th, at 30 percent), and the District of Columbia (10th, at 27 percent).

In terms of measuring broadband availability, competition, speeds, prices and service quality, BroadbandCensus.com believes that the next crucial step is to break those speed totals down not only by geography, but also by carrier.

In other words, it is good to know the difference between the download speeds in Connecticut and in California. But it would be great to know the difference between the actual download speeds of Verizon Communications, AT&T, Comcast, etc., within different locations in Connecticut and in California.

That’s what BroadbandCensus.com is currently working on. We don’t have enough data to have a reasonable gauge of carrier-specific data on a state-by-state, or county-by-county, or ZIP code-by-ZIP code basis.

But based on the results from those of you who have Taken the Broadband Census and speed test, we do have preliminary data about carrier-specific download speeds and upload speeds. We also can gauge the difference between carriers’ promised speeds and their actual speeds. This information is based, again, upon the bottom-up, or “crowdsourcing,” of information by those of you who have Taken the Broadband Census!

We’re putting together a report based on this information as part of partnership with the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That report will be released later this year.

Blog Posts and Web Sites Referenced by this Blog Entry:

Panelists Debate Success of U.S. Deregulation in Broadband

in Broadband's Impact by

By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

WASHINGTON, June 9– Experts on both sides of the Atlantic squared off on Monday about whether the United States’ broadband policies were a success, with Europeans arguing that U.S. broadband cost too much, and an American praising a deregulatory telecom policy.

Costs in the U.S. Are rising because competition is “drying up” with the consolidation of telecommunications companies, said Aryeh Friedman, senior competition and regulatory counsel at British Telecom. He also said that U.S. internet speeds declined in comparison with the United Kingdom.

By contrast, Thomas Hazlett, professor of law and economics at George Mason University School of Law, said that deregulation of broadband by telecommunications carriers in 2003 led to a “substantial increase in deployment” of digital subscriber lines (DSL).

The panel, titled “Transatlantic Perspectives on Broadband Policy: Inter- versus Intra-Platform Competition,” was co-sponsored by the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, and the Technology Policy Institute, a new Washington-based think tank. The event was hosted at the National Press Club.

Friedman also stated that more than 99 percent of households in the U.K. are now DSL-enabled, with 55 percent broadband penetration. He said that 90 percent of DSL subscribers have speeds of 3 megabits per second (Mbps) or higher. He also said that the U.S. has not subsidized enough money into deploying broadband.

The large number of providers in the U.K. meant that Network Neutrality was “really not a debate”over there.

Hazlett also addressed wireless broadband, and said that the U.S. government had not done enough to make use, for broadband, the vast amount of radio frequencies currently reserved for television broadcasting.

Andrea Renda, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, said that some feared that the European Commission might suffer if it followed the model of structural separation used by the U.K. Enforcing such competition might create an “everlasting monopoly,” he said. Further, it might not ever present the Commission with an opportunity to roll back regulation when the market becomes competitive.

In any case, Renda said that “the future is mobile.” He also cautioned against comparing broadband penetration in the U.S. with that of a small country like Denmark.

Marvin Sirbu, a professor of engineering, public policy, and industrial administration at Carnegie Mellon University, said that broadband penetration levels in the U.S. and France were fairly close. But the differences in prices were start, with a typical purchase costing $12.60 per megabit per month in the U.S. versus $3.70 per megabit per month in France.

Sirbu attributed this difference to a market with more competitors in France, versus a duopoly of cable and DSL providers in the U.S.

The differences in approach are “highly related to the Anglo-Saxon” fondness for checks and balances versus the French historical preference for centralized planning, he said.

Complimenting the panel’s discussion, Ambassador David A. Gross, U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy, extolled the remarkable progress of the world in telecommunications.

Gross said that telecommunications had “broadened as no one could have reasonably anticipated or expected” over the past 10 years. The world has experienced a “quantum leap,” he said.

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