In 2004 President Bush pledged to bring affordable high speed broad band service to all Americans by 2007 and yesterday he announced that he had accomplished that, pointing to a report prepared by the National Communications and Information Administration, which states that broadband service is now available to 99% of the country’s zip codes. The pledge and the announcement, however, do not match up very well. The word “affordable” appears in th4 pledge but not in the announcement. That’s a little bit like pledging to provide affordable health care to every American, then saying three years later “Look there are hospitals everywhere.”
The Associated Press points out that the U.S. was ranked fourth among nations in broadband service in 2001 and has slide to fifteenth in 2006 according to the Organization for cooperation and Development. (Apparently the presumption is that the slide has continued.) In any case the claim to have reached every zip code doesn’t really mean much and there appear to be no domestic studies identifying the availability of broadband service and the NTIA, which wrote the report, supports the gathering of reliable information on this subject by the FCC. Somehow the need to gather data concerning this presidential priority utterly escaped everyone in the administration.
Critic seems to accept the data that is presently available, showing the the U.S. is lagging far behind other countries. They point out that a significant factor in the relatively low penetration of broadband in the U.S. is due to the relatively high cost here, compared to other countries.
The NTIA celebrates the current state of affairs saying “If you look at the administration policies from the beginning, there’s been a comprehensive set of technology, regulatory and fiscal economic policies that have laid the foundation for the robust competitive environment that we are enjoying today.” It’s just a little unclear who the “we” is.