Friday, July 23, 2010

Time Warner Cable Supports "Broadband for America" But Demands $20,000 Per Mile to Deliver

If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who can't get broadband Internet because it is just not available where you live, and you have looked into the problem of why this might be, you may have encountered BroadbandforAmerica.com. This is an organization that sounds like it might be promoting greater broadband access for Americans, but look a little closer and you will see it is really a bunch of telecommunication and cable companies (telcos) trying to avoid any requirements to provide broadband that might be imposed by local, state or federal government.

That's right folks, it's not a group of people out to help rural communities that can't get anyone to bring them broadband, it's a bunch of corporate and union lobbyists. Indeed, if you read their slogan carefully it says:
Brought to you by over 200 companies and organizations dedicated to expanding the discussion of BROADBAND for AMERICA
They are NOT about expanding the DELIVERY of BROADBAND for AMERICA, they're just about talking about the topic of broadband. And a lot of that talk is just plain nonsense.


Check out the 200 companies and organizations that make up BROADBAND for AMERICA and you will see that they include TWC (Time Warner Cable). As we have previously reported, TWC recently offered to deliver broadband to a rural New York customer for the sum of $100,000. Apparently TWC is happy to expand the coverage of BROADBAND for AMERICA as long as you have $20,000 per mile to give them.

What companies like TWC and the other corporate members of BROADBAND for AMERICA really want is to prevent any kind of universal service requirement for broadband. Such requirements exists in many Western countries and it exists in America in terms of telephone service. That's right, our forefathers in this great land had the foresight to realize that telephone service needed to be universal, available to everyone from big city businesses in New York to farmers and ranchers out on the prairies of North Dakota (after all, it is these farmers who supply the food that the city dwellers consume).

There were and are numerous good reasons for universal service, not least of which is the fact that telpehone companies need to run their wires and beam their signals through rural states in order to connect large population centers. I think most Americans would agree it's not really fair to do that without providing service to the people whose land and air you are using in order to make a profit.

And we are all for making a profit. Even if Time Warner Cable can't run cable for less than $20,000 per mile it would still make, over time, a decent profit from the paying customers it would acquire from doing so. But no, serving Americans who are not immediately and hugely profitable does not appeal to telcos. Sure, they love the federal tax dollars and the free passage they get from states and counties whom they by-pass, but service? Service at anything other than a huge profit is apparently not in their vocabulary.

So, whatever you hear BROADBAND for AMERICA say, in emails and in TV ads (yes, they are using TV ads to try and persuade Americans that 20th century Internet standards are just fine for 21st century America) you should probably regard it with more than a pinch of salt. In fact, why not regard it with about $20,000 worth of salt per word.

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