FCC Broadband Fudge Factor

The FCC fudges the numbers with regard to the availability of broadband Internet access in America. A newly-released report claims that broadband penetration grew some 54% from mid-2005 through June of last year. But the problem with the claim lies in how it's defined. For starters, the FCC defines broadband connectivity as any connection with a speed higher than 200 kilobits per second -- hardly a quick figure, considering it's less than one-seventh the speed of today's DSL or cable modem lines. Secondly, the FCC uses zip codes to measure broadband penetration, and classifies an entire zip code area as wired if just one customer is connected there -- even if that connection involves something like satellite-delivered broadband service.

But the most egregious distortion behind the claim is the FCC's counting of 11 million mobile broadband - aka cell phone -- subscribers as evidence of increased service. Never mind that cell phone networks, with their proprietary and metered architecture, don't even come close to resembling a bona-fide broadband Internet experience. The real bottom line? It's 2007, and just under 60% of U.S. homes still do not have easy, affordable access to broadband.