Who's Got Broadband?

It's game time again, dear readers. Let me introduce you to one of the hottest pastimes among regulators, lawmakers, pollsters, and policy wonks these days. It's called: "Who's Got Broadband?" The challenge of playing this game is that nobody can agree on the right answer. So estimates tend to be all over the board. It all depends on whom you ask, how you ask them, where you ask them, and what you count as broadband. Is 200 kbit/s fast enough to qualify? Is 1 Mbit/s speedy enough? Taking its semi-annual stab at this endlessly vexing question, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) came out with its latest profound judgment Wednesday. In its infinite wisdom, the Commission concluded that 42.9 million American homes had some kind of broadband connection at the end of last year, whether it be a cable modem, DSL, fiber-to-the-whatever line, satellite dish, terrestrial fixed, mobile wireless, or electric power line. Including business lines, the FCC counted a total of 50.2 million high-speed lines in service at the close of 2005, up from 37.9 million lines at the end of 2004. But, as the FCC concedes, not all broadband connections are created equal. So it distinguishes between "high-speed data lines," which deliver data at speeds of more than 200 kbit/s in just one direction, and faster "advanced services lines," which deliver data at speeds of at least 200 kbit/s in both directions. The latter make up 42.8 million of the total broadband lines. Still with me? Good. So who's winning the war between cable modems and DSL? Well, cable modems still account for a commanding 62 percent of the advanced services lines while DSL accounts for about 36 percent. But DSL gained market share on cable for the first time last year. Draw your own conclusions. Ñ Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
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