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Cable Lobby Claims US Is Just Bursting With Broadband Competition

Everyone’s favorite organization, the NCTA (now known as The Internet and Television Association), has released a report claiming an overwhelming number of people now have access to multiple internet service providers and plenty of competition in that market. This may come as a shock to anyone living in an area (like I do) where there’s exactly one internet provider. Not only do I have to use Comcast, the apartment complex I live in signed a deal with them, which means I’m stuck using a service I don’t want, period. Hurrah. So competitive.

The NCTA, however, sees things differently, mostly because it relies on outdated and irrelevant metrics for measuring broadband performance. See, if you go back a few years, “broadband” was designed as 3Mbps down.

NCTA-Facts

The NCTA is using the original 3Mbps down to justify its own pricing and behavior. It’s true: Once upon a time, 3Mbps was considered broadband. It’s also true vehicles like the Hudson Hornet were once cutting-edge designs. Black-and-white TV was a huge step forward in the 1960s, until we figured out color TV. A VCR was awesome before DVDs and devices like TiVo.

In short, if you set the definition broadly enough, you can accomplish almost anything! But that doesn’t mean you’ve actually accomplished something. It just means you’re lying with statistics. 3Mbps isn’t broadband; it’s 375KB/s. You can stream low quality Netflix, surf the web on one or two tabs, and hope you never need to download anything in a hurry. But that’s about all you’re going to get from it.

The TV industry is more robust, with satellite TVs and devices like Roku carving out a space for themselves as well. But as for concrete advances? Don’t hold your breath. With net neutrality gone, the only advances we’re going to see will be to sell features that were previously required (and free) to customers who need low ping times. That’s not an advance, it’s just highway robbery.

According to the NCTA:

[From] screeching, sluggish dial-up internet access to multi-gigabit broadband internet — [today] creators and distributors fight for a share of America’s eyeballs in one of the fastest moving and most innovative business spaces in history. The result has been better TV programming, robust broadband access, and more affordable options. Competition is alive and well in the TV and internet marketplaces and consumers are benefiting every day.

It’s always fun to read quotes like this. It basically imagines no one in the US is aware of how this works in other countries, where prices are much lower than ours, and bandwidth speeds vastly higher. And where, under rules formulated when ISDN was still a hot commodity, 3Mbps doesn’t count as “broadband.” When you consider the more recent criteria of 25Mbps, a third of the nation has access to just one ISP, and 37 percent only have two to choose from.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

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