Tuesday, April 23, 2024

America Broadband Runs Far Behind

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The latest report from broadband research firm Point Topic shows Asia leading in fiber optics,
which delivers the fattest pipes, and the U.S. ranked 24th globally in per capita broadband penetration, a sad spot for the nation that invented the Internet. The report defines “broadband” as connections with speeds of at least 256 kbps in both directions.

Asia leads the world with the fastest speeds because the world economy
gave Asian governments the cash to spend on fiber, wrote Oliver Johnson, CEO
of Point Topic in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

“Big infrastructure projects were popular and growing economies/exports meant they were able to spend heavily to install fiber infrastructure ahead of the rest of the
world,” he said.

Combined, Asia-Pacific and the South Asia and East Asian regions contain
over 82 percent of the world’s deployed fiber. North America has only 7.29

The report noted that although Europe and North America lag behind
Asia, their fiber deployments are growing relatively rapidly. The report
singled out Verizon’s fiber deployment in North America, noting that the
company added 130,000 fiber subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2008 for a total of 1.18 million subscribers with a growth rate of 11.8 percent in the quarter.

In China, Johnson noted, the government is building massive
infrastructure projects along which it can run fiber, lowering the cost of
fiber trenches.

Size matters

One reason the U.S. ranks 24th in broadband adoption is in part due to its size. The smallest nations see the highest rates of adoption. The top five nations are, in
order: Monaco, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Iceland. Of those,
Iceland is the largest geographically, but it’s still “slightly smaller than Kentucky,” according to the CIA World Fact Book.

But, Johnson said, the U.S. government must take some of the blame.
Although geography is one cause, he cited backhaul regulation (as opposed to
opening the local loop) as important and “a historically non-interventionist
government” as another cause. He said the result has been local monopolies
and duopolies.

Deployment has stayed in the cities and the wealthy suburbs and failed to
reach poor and urban areas. “Large conurbations and richer communities will get access to broadband technologies before other sections of the population.”

The news comes as the U.S. government is preparing to spend more money on broadband for the poor and for those in rural areas than it has ever spent before. Furthermore, the agencies responsible for spending the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus have promised to make sure the money is
available quickly.

In absolute numbers, the U.S. does well, with 79.07 million subscribers, making it second only to China’s 83.37 million, but China’s subscriber base is growing faster.

Oddly enough, while the U.S. lags in DSL and fiber technologies, it leads
the world in cable broadband. Johnson attributed this to history, saying
that the U.S. was the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation in
the 1940s and 1950s, when the cable infrastructure was built.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.

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