Saturday, January 9, 2016

Internet Access: Moore's Law Not Fast Enough for You?

Author Samuel Clemens once quipped that there are “Lies, damn lies and statistics.” Psychologists know a Rashomon” effect exists, where people have distinctly different impressions of the same event.

So it always seems to be with understanding of how much progress any nation or service provider is making in the area of Internet service quality.

Improvements nearly at Moore's Law rates seems to be a “problem.”

The Federal Communications Commission takes one view; some take the other.

“Broadband deployment in the United States--especially in rural areas--is failing to keep pace with today’s advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings, according to the 2015 Broadband Progress Report adopted today by the Federal Communications Commission,” the FCC says.

The FCC observation about rural areas is correct, and likely always will be, for many of the reasons that hipster bars and restaurants never will be as plentiful in rural areas as they are in urban areas.

Density is required for some businesses to exist, or be sustainable.

The FCC notes that “55 million Americans--17 percent of the population--lack access to advanced broadband,” defined as 25 Mbps in the downstream and 3 Mbps in the upstream.

At the same time, firms such as Comcast, Google Fiber, AT&T, CenturyLink and many others are actively deploying gigabit access networks, where demand will sustain those services.

More important, Comcast and AT&T continue to demonstrate they can scale Internet access bandwidth nearly at Moore’s Law rates.

To the extent the FCC sees itself--and to the extent that it is--the protector of citizen and consumer rights, it is understandable that the agency can say we are not making enough progress.

But that does not mean we are not making progress. We clearly are, unless you think Moore’s Law rates of improvement are not fast enough.

The other observation is that, to a large extent, we will never experience, in rural areas, the same amenities we see in urban areas.

In that sense, “lack of progress” will always  be a problem. That does not mean we are not “solving” the problem, generally.

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