FCCs RFC for the Definition of Broadband

Robert Enger - NANOG nanog at enger.us
Wed Aug 26 17:20:06 CDT 2009

The push to dumb down the definition is not only to benefit the legacy 
providers.  It also benefits the politicians.  A lower standard means 
that a greater quantity of citizens can be deemed to have been given 
broadband.   The politicians will claim that they have served more 

The hard underlying issue is cost-justifying expensive OSP builds in 
low-density areas.  Yes, aerial construction is cheaper than UG.   But, 
it is still hard to build a business case for providing service in a 
low-density area, especially as an over-builder.   (And any terrestrial 
provider is essentially an over-builder now that DBS tv service is so 
pervasive.)  One cannot count on ~100% penetration, as was possible when 
there was only one game in town.

I don't know if we can ever cost-justify bringing *real* broadband 
(un-capped FE, GigE, fiber) service to the hinterland.  Many of the 
countries with higher speed service that we compare ourselves against 
(e.g. S.Korea) are able to build at a very low price point because they 
have a very high percentage of MDUs.  MDU builds are comparatively low 
cost.   Urban MDU, where you can piggy-back on an existing 
building-entrance conduit are even cheaper.

This is like farm subsidy or foreign aid.  The tax payer is asked to 
subsidize bringing the benefits of modern urban/suburban technology to 
the middle of nowhere.  However, if the program succeeds in increasing 
broadband penetration (whatever broadband is) perhaps it will have the 
beneficial effect of making the nation more homogeneous and harmonious.

On 8/26/2009 10:38 AM, Fred Baker wrote:
> If it's about stimulus money, I'm in favor of saying that broadband 
> implies fiber to the home. That would provide all sorts of stimuli to 
> the economy - infrastructure, equipment sales, jobs digging ditches, 
> and so on. I could pretty quickly argue myself into suggesting special 
> favors for deployment of DNSSEC, multicast, and IPv6. As in, use the 
> stimulus money to propel a leap forward, not just waste it.
> On Aug 26, 2009, at 9:44 AM, Carlos Alcantar wrote:
>> I think the big push to get the fcc to define broadband is highly based
>> on the rus/ntia setting definitions of what broadband is.  If any anyone
>> has been fallowing the rus/ntia they are the one handing out all the
>> stimulus infrastructure grant loan money.  So there are a lot of
>> political reasons to make the definition of broadband a bit slower than
>> one would think.  I guess it doesn't hurt that the larger lec's with the
>> older infrastructure are shelling out the money to lobby to make sure
>> the definition stays as low as can be.  They don't want to see the gov
>> funding there competition.  Just my 2 cents.
>> -carlos
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Ted Fischer [mailto:ted at fred.net]
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 8:50 AM
>> To: nanog at nanog.org
>> Subject: Re: FCCs RFC for the Definition of Broadband
>> Paul Timmins wrote:
>>> Fred Baker wrote:
>>>> On Aug 24, 2009, at 9:17 AM, Luke Marrott wrote:
>>>>> What are your thoughts on what the definition of Broadband should be
>>>>> going
>>>>> forward? I would assume this will be the standard definition for a
>>>>> number of
>>>>> years to come.
>>>> Historically, narrowband was circuit switched (ISDN etc) and
>> broadband
>>>> was packet switched. Narrowband was therefore tied to the digital
>>>> signaling hierarchy and was in some way a multiple of 64 KBPS. As the
>>>> term was used then, broadband delivery options of course included
>>>> virtual circuits bearing packets, like Frame Relay and ATM.
>>> of or relating to or being a communications network in which the
>>> bandwidth can be divided and shared by multiple simultaneous signals
>> (as
>>> for voice or data or video)
>>> That's my humble opinion. Let them use a new term, like "High Speed
>>> Internet".
>> Seconded

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