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Tag: underserved areas

Defining “Broadband” and “Underserved”

Posted by Matthew Greensmith at 7:09 AM on April 7, 2009

$7.2 billion in stimulus money has been earmarked by Congress for spending on broadband service and underserved areas. Thus is born a conundrum that is becoming virtually unsolvable.

What exactly does “broadband” mean? According to ATT, it’s anything not dialup. To others, like the Communications Workers of America, it is anything over 3 mb. And since our median “broadband” speed in this country is about 2.3 mb, while Japan boasts an median of 63 mb and Canada about 7.6, what are we truly talking about when we talk about broadband?

And what is meant by “underserved” areas? Is it rural areas with no access to broadband? Or is it broader than that, applying to any area that can’t get 3 mb or more, which includes both urban and suburban areas?

This is what the FCC is trying to figure out, and is open to comments through April 13th. The acting chairman of the FCC, Michael Copps, believes his agency is up to the challenge of defining these terms for the purposes of deploying the stimulus funding. But he notes that President Obama’s long-term goal is to get broadband deployed deep into the country, which could place rural deployment of broadband at the top of the list.

I’m all for that, since I’ve been craving a move to the country for some time. But I also want to see fatter pipes, to the tune of at least 10 mb, if not more. I realize I’m very blessed at this moment to have a realistic 8 mps down and 3 mb up on a regular basis, but I’m living in an area where the majority of people are using dialup, and if I were to move even one more mile further away from the main metro area, I would lose any type of broadband altogether. I’m also one of those that believes true broadband (I subscribe to the better-than-3mb club) should be a basic utility, just like gas, electric, and phone service. To me, it is no different.

You can submit your own comments to the FCC, through April 13th, on this important determination. Visit www.fcc.gov for more information, or take this link to go directly to the comment instructions (PDF file).