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U.S. Broadband Policy: Myth vs. Reality

The OECD released its semi-annual broadband penetration rankings (Broadband Statistics to December 2006), which show that the United States has fallen further to 15th among the 30 members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

There has been some criticism of the report and attempts have been made to discredit it. (See for example today’s Wall Street Journal Broadband Baloney by Robert M. McDowell. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). Jul 24, 2007. pg. A.15; [WSJ subscription required]. Another copy here [Proquest subscription required]).

A report by freepress directly addresses the criticisms of the OECD report.


Release of the latest OECD report – unlike previous studies — was met with a fierce response by incumbent providers and the think tanks they support, as well as prominent public attacks by several members of the executive branch.

Free Press found that the major critiques leveled at the OECD data simply fall apart upon closer examination. The coordinated attempt to “shoot the messenger” cannot hide critical failures in the U.S. broadband market. These failures are chiefly due to poor policy decisions that have fostered an anti-competitive marketplace. Our European and Asian counterparts are outperforming us because they have policies that foster vigorous competition in the broadband marketplace, offering consumers more choice, faster speeds and lower prices.

…In 2004, President Bush set a clear goal for high-speed Internet access in the United States…

The president clearly called for not only universal access by 2007, but more importantly he wanted broadband to be affordable. The president correctly pointed out that marketplace competition and consumer choice would spawn greater consumer broadband adoption, ultimately benefiting the entire American economy. This was his policy goal.

In reality, the United States has not met either the goal of universal availability or achieved the level of competition necessary to spur adoption rates and achieve the economic and social benefits the president desired.

But that hasn’t stopped administration officials from declaring victory anyway.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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