Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The Promise of Broadband–Is the Umpteenth Time a Charm?

In an article in The Wall Street Journal today comes the news that “President- elect Barack Obama’s call to improve the nation’s broadband infrastructure has cable and phone company lobbyists maneuvering to get a leg up.”

To BoomTown, this is akin to Ebenezer Scrooge making his overnight transformation, except without any soul, sincerity or true intent to actually care about the consumer.

God help us, everyone.

Because if these same companies had been around during, say, the critical rollout of the federal highway system or universal telephone access, we’d all be tooling down dirt roads and talking via tin cans.

Still, a whiff of interest from a new administration–a move that is much too long in coming, due to a complete lack of leadership by the Feds, who have egregiously ignored exactly how important broadband ubiquity is to the U.S. economy–and we are apparently off to the races.

It’s high time, given, as the Journal article points out, “the U.S. has slipped to 15th from fourth place since 2001 in broadband penetration, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

We are tops in costs of these services, though!

Ouch.

Of course, the cable and phone giants are pushing for the government to pay for a lot of it–as they reap big bucks from high-penetration areas and try to get public dollars to pay for areas that have no broadband access.

As usual, the government will be the piggy bank–as it should have done much earlier–doling out tax credits and incentives and backing bonds, grants and vouchers.

Still, said the Journal, the cable and phone giants are bickering over the definition of speed, even as they continue to try to block public broadband projects and public-interest groups try to force the government to impose conditions on private companies.

So, while a new intent by the new leadership in Washington is a good thing, a little bah-humbug on the part of consumers is probably still in order.

Speaking of that, here are two videos of highlights of an interview Walt Mossberg and I did with outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, along with Verizon Wireless head Lowell McAdam, about these very issues at last May’s D: All Things Digital conference.

Here are the videos:

Part 1

Part 2


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