FCCs RFC for the Definition of Broadband

Richard Bennett richard at bennett.com
Thu Aug 27 22:11:50 CDT 2009

The background issue is whether satellite-based systems at around 200 
Kb/s and high latency can be defined as "broadband." Since everyone in 
America - including the Alaskans - has access to satellite services, 
defining that level of service as broadband makes the rest of the 
exercise academic: everyone is "served." There's no economic argument 
for government subsidies to multiple firms in a market, of course.

It's more interesting considering that DirecTV is about to launch a new 
satellite with a couple orders of magnitude more capacity than the 
existing ones offer. I seem to recall their claiming that the service 
would then improved to some respectable number of megabits/sec. 
Satellite ISPs locate their ground stations in IXP-friendly locations, 
so there aren't any worries about backhaul or fiber access costs.

But to your actual question, "under-served" is of course quite 
subjective and cost is clearly part of it.


Frank Bulk - iName.com wrote:
> As one of the workshops discussed, does the definition of "underserved" and
> "unserved" include the clause "for a reasonable price"?  
> If the price is unreasonable, do you think its government money well-spent
> to subsidize bringing a competitor to a market that couldn't make it before?
> Or are there perhaps other ways to deal with that pricing issue?
> Frank
> -----Original Message-----
> From: William Herrin [mailto:herrin-nanog at dirtside.com] 
> Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 4:46 PM
> To: Fred Baker
> Cc: nanog at nanog.org
> Subject: Re: FCCs RFC for the Definition of Broadband
> <snip>
> Really where they need the swift kick in the tail is in the product
> tying where you can't buy a high speed connection to J. Random ISP,
> you can only buy a high speed connection to monopoly provider's
> in-house ISP. Which means you can only get commodity service since
> monopoly provider isn't in the business of providing low-dollar custom
> solutions. But it sounds like that's outside the scope of what
> Congress has approved.
> Regards,
> Bill Herrin

Richard Bennett
Research Fellow
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Washington, DC

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