The fact that the United States lags behind many other countries in broadband penetration and average data access rate is no surprise to people involved in the telecom industry, but now, even the federal government seems to have stumbled upon the issue. As two new bills encouraging greater broadband deployment wind their way through the House and Senate, the Federal Communications Commission is proposing new methods for collecting broadband penetration data, and for defining what speeds qualify as broadband access. Its methods in both areas have been criticized as primitive and inaccurate, but worked in the telecom industry's favor to make penetration and access rates seem higher than they actually are.
The FCC proposals move in the right direction, but may not offer enough to legislators who are finally, thankfully, making broadband a hot-button issue, and to the activists who have pressed ahead on issues like rural and low-income broadband when no one else seemed to care. Even some states like Kentucky already have pushed forward with their own broadband policies. The broadband bus is on the way out of the station, a welcome thought even if it's running very late.
- Broadband legislation moves through House and Senate committees