Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Reed Hundt on Big Broadband

Reed Hundt, formerly head of the FCC, wrote a recent thing piece on the "inevitability of big broadband". As you might imagine, his speech lays out that it's far from inevitable -- unless the government does something Real Soon Now.

His argument seems to be for the creation of a single, highly regulated, universal high-speed fiber network across the USA, which would be able to pay for itself by charging regulated fees for voice ($40) internet ($25) etc. He views the parallel creation of multiple competing 'mini-broadband' networks by telcos and cable as a bad thing, and the attempt to support the old copper phone system and old universal access scheme as a bad thing.

Smells like Ma Broadband to me.

The piece is surprisingly short on "why to do it" beyond vague hand-waving about how the network will realize untold benefits. Has anyone actually figured out what to do with broadband networks?

One interesting tidbit is Hundt's summary list of all the old "vs." arguments of the past decade:

Since the beginning of convergence, dated from about 1992 (plus or minus a year), the battle to be the primary medium of at least the next decade - the one we are in now - has raged among various antipodal rivals: content vs. conduit, local vs. long distance, wireless vs. wire, data vs. voice also sort of known as packet vs. circuit, communications vs. computing, network vs. edge, and copper vs. HFC (also known as telco vs. cable). Other, possibly lesser dialectics include satellite vs. terrestrial and broadcast vs. cable. Convergence describes then a clash of networks, businesses, and even cultures.

No comments: