WSJ Columnist Holman Jenkins: Internet Competition and New Technologies Refute the Notion of ‘Broadband Stagnation'
In his latest Wall Street Journal column, “Springtime for Broadband,” Holman Jenkins Jr. describes the past 15 years of U.S. broadband development as enveloped by uncertainty. The past few years, however, have been a bright spot. “Since 2009, the U.S. has gone from 22nd fastest Internet to the eighth fastest,” Jenkins writes. Market forces, new network technologies and private industry investment are complementary forces driving this fast-paced development of U.S. networks.
The rapid evolution and growth of wireless technologies has had wide-ranging effects on the market for high-speed Internet. Though many say wireless Internet cannot compete with its wired counterpart, statistics indicate otherwise. Right now, there are more wireless devices in the U.S. than people. And in Australia, the government recently projected that 30 percent of all households will go wireless-only and will eschew its national broadband network. With the U.S. already leading in the deployment of 4G LTE technologies that offers speeds at or near wired networks, it’s clear that competition between wired and wireless providers is only in its early days.
Private sector investment in newer, faster and more efficient infrastructure means U.S. broadband speeds have been steadily climbing.
“In the latest federal survey, the average broadband speed in America is up to 15.6 megabits per second, from 14.3 a year earlier,” Jenkins writes.
Phone companies have been slowing investments in DSL, but have re-focused on other areas like wireless and fiber. Consumers are demanding choices in how they access the Internet, and the industry has been investing to deliver. Investment in the Internet of Tomorrow, too, is looking bright.
“According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, 20 million miles of fiber were laid in America last year. AT&T just announced it will taper down its stock buybacks in order to pay for more broadband investments.”
Cable companies have invested in their networks to increase broadband speeds. And some companies like Charter Communications lauds customers using large amounts of bandwidth because it proves the efficiency and quality of their service.
Jenkins shows that the telecommunications industry and broadband market are dynamic and marked by a host of maturing and emerging technologies. Though some may cry foul about “broadband stagnation,” Jenkins gets it right by showing that the industry is rapidly changing. Changing our system now defies the environment that has allowed private industry to move the U.S. from 22 to 8 in world Internet speeds.