Wednesday, June 08, 2005


More on Bush/Martin broadband policy

Dave Burstein, of DSL Prime, joins the skeptics. In the latest issue, he writes
One item I hope is not puffery is George Bush's campaign promise that the U.S. will have "affordable broadband" for all by 2007. But Martin's proposal to "establish a regulatory environment that's conducive" is not enough by itself. Current deployment promises will only reach about half the homes unserved when Bush made that call. An amorphous "broadband policy" will do little; a concrete action plan with teeth, probably backed up with satellite, will be necessary to offer service to all. But "affordable" I believe even less likely, by any standard that includes poor families. Common sense rejects the claim by E., a Bell spokesman, that "affordability is in the eye of the beholder." Forty years of universal service policy have tried to keep phone rates between $10 and $20 in today's dollars, and phone service is even more crucial. From the huge increase in demand when prices go to $15-20 (Italy, France, Japan, adjusted for included phone calls), the market is telling us price is still an obstacle for many.  "So, what's affordable?" E. asks, to which I replied my readers are as qualified to judge as I am. Can poor families afford $29.95 a month? Too many kids go to bed hungry as it is.

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New Jersey has semi-subsidized housing in many of its condo developments to allow teachers, policemen, nurses and firemen to live within an hour's drive of where they work.

I regularly help people at one of these with tutoring and mentoring kids (guess what ... not all of the smart kids come from rich households). In the past year I've seen an explosion in shared broadband - clearly not under TOS, but people are sharing net with their neighbors at a big rate. The standard charge seems to be $10 a month, a nice plate of cookies, or some equivalent. People are really frustrated at $40 to $50 a month (the standard broadband charges here) and AOL is far too expensive and slow.

I gave a public lecture on the use of Skype to lower phone bills. None of these folks are going to be interested in over-priced PoIP (pots over IP), but Skype is exploding in what the local rich people call "the ghettos"...
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