Push Paperwork, Not Pipes, for Universal Broadband

As President-elect Barack Obama contemplates plans that would provide universal¬†broadband access, lobbyists and technologists are lining up to get their voices heard. When it comes to broadband, I’m strongly in favor of some type of government intervention, but rather than pay to lay fiber, a national plan should address some of the sticking points of our current infrastructure — namely a lack of competition and a need to unify rules and regulations for telecommunications providers.

I’ve glossed over the role of local and state governments and other parties that share telecommunications infrastructure — in a sense, the costs of the analog network — but it’s important. While the digital costs of broadband networks — the cost of moving bits of data around — is decreasing, the analog equivalent of that broadband equation is a bit harder to measure. This was brought home by a report this week in MultiChannel News looking at the costs of stringing cable via utility poles.¬† The article suggests that lowering the cost of attaching equipment and stringing cables from utility poles — as well as making those prices uniform for all users of the pole — would increase broadband deployments. Read More about Push Paperwork, Not Pipes, for Universal Broadband