Issues

Broadband

Defining the Issue

Background

Cisco’s Position

Additional Resources

Defining the Issue

Access to broadband Internet—high-speed, always-on communication links that can move large files much more quickly than a regular phone line—is critical to advancing the way people work, live, play, and learn. With easy access to such high-speed communications technology, both citizens and countries benefit through increased educational opportunities, business productivity, job growth, and economic prosperity.

Background

Broadband Internet access is available over a variety of platforms including cable modems, digital subscriber lines (DSL), wireless, satellite, powerline (BPL), fiber optics to the home (FTTH), or long reach ethernet (LRE). On a global basis, nations vary in their approaches to investing in and supporting technology infrastructure. Some of the issues slowing broadband deployment include:

  • Absence of a fully competitive market
  • Disagreement between traditionally regulated service providers—that own critical network infrastructure—and new alternative providers that lease these networks over terms of entry to the market, investment in new infrastructure, and use of existing infrastructure
  • Legitimate need to ensure universal access to broadband services

A few countries—Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea, Norway, and Iceland, among others—have achieved significant broadband penetration, but most lag far behind. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) currently ranks the United States 15th in the world for broadband adoption, down from 4th in 2001. Broadband penetration in Latin America is low, but growing rapidly. Similar strong growth is occurring in Asia and the Middle East. With some notable exceptions, most of the broadband infrastructure available today around the globe consists of relatively slow connections, in the 500kbps to 8Mbps range. Countries like Japan are leading the world in fast broadband services, with widespread availability of services up to 100Mbps.

Cisco’s Position

Cisco believes that leading countries must develop comprehensive national broadband infrastructure deployment plans that include policies to:

  • Incent private-sector investment in broadband infrastructure
  • Promote deployment of new technologies and applications
  • Encourage innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Make spectrum available for wireless broadband services

Connect the unconnected through universal service and fiscal policies Government officials and regulators can adopt the following policies to support broadband infrastructure:

  • Create a regulatory framework that has incentives for efficient investment in new broadband infrastructure with a goal of reducing regulation as far as possible as sustainable competition develops
  • Avoid onerous telecommunications regulation that prevents alternative broadband service providers from accessing new markets
  • Dedicate spectrum to high-speed broadband access applications
  • Transition universal service programs from circuit-switched voice focus to broadband connectivity

Additional Resources

TechNet

US FCC

Broadband in Europe: Initiatives and Action Plans