What is Broadband?

I recently emailed the entire committee that was reviewing this bill. This bill did not pass but I think it pertains to a larger discussion – what is broadband and why are companies in 2013 still offering top speeds below this?

Representative,

First off, thank you for serving our state as a member of the House of Representatives. I know you take this position seriously and will try to not take up much of your time. I am writing you in regards to HB 282 (Municipal Broadband Investment Act). I am an IT professional so understand this subject matter.

This bill’s goal appears to limit local municipalities from investing in broadband internet access as long as a private company is offering what the bill defines as “broadband service.” However, the bill states that “”Broadband service’ means Internet access service with transmission speeds that are equal to or greater than 1.5 megabits per second in the faster direction.” This is a terrible definition as the base level speeds of broadband according to the FCC is 4.0 Mbps download and 1.0 Mbps upload. See below:

The National Broadband Plan recommends as a national broadband availability target that every household in America have access to affordable broadband service offering actual download (i.e., to the customer) speeds of at least 4 Mbps and actual upload (i.e., from the customer) speeds of at least 1 Mbps. This target was derived from analysis of user behavior, demands this usage places on the network, and recent experience in network evolution. It is the minimum speed required to stream a high-quality —even if not high-definition—video while leaving sufficient bandwidth for basic web browsing and e-mail, a common mode of broadband usage today that comports directly with section 706’s definition of advanced telecommunications capability. (http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-129A1.pdf, pg. 4, section 5)

Note that this FCC report was issued July 2010. Speeds requirements have only increased in the last 2.5 years. Until recently, my local phone company had a monopoly on internet access and the top speed was 3 Mbps download and 0.768 Mbps upload. Note that according to the FCC, this is not broadband. According to your bill, it is. I am one of the few lucky ones that was offered Trailwave from Habersham EMC, a fiber connection facilitated by North Georgia Network (http://northgeorgianetwork.com/), which operates a 1,100 mile fiber optic system through North Georgia. Instead of paying $55 a month for DSL, I now pay $35 a month for 20Mbps download and 20Mbps upload speeds. Most of my friends, family, and coworkers were not within range of these and are stuck with sub-par internet access that would only be further restricted with HB 282.

Please consider what kind of economic growth is stifled when businesses are unable to have a decent internet connection. They can always move to another location – do we really want that for Georgia?

Sincerely,

John Cheatham

About John

I am the AV Systems Design Engineer in the department of Enterprise AV Services, part of the Division of Information Technology at University of North Georgia. That means I design, install, and maintain anything that is audio visual: projectors, sound systems, control systems, cameras, lighting, Crestron, Polycom, Extron, AMX, and any other techy-sounding thing. I’m also a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where I obtained a Master of Divinity win Biblical Counseling. I’m married to my awesome wife (Heather) and have an awesome family (first Jack, then Debbie, then Hannah, then Levi, and now Emmeline)!

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