has been particularly concerned about the Internet over the past six weeks, tasked as it is with the job of creating a national broadband policy
. The FCC's chairman, Julius Genachowski, has gone on record proclaiming that spreading broadband across the country is a massive
, possibly culture-changing event, on par with the creation of the highway system or the introduction of the electric light.Those are noble sentiments, to be sure, but the FCC has already slammed into conflicting viewpoints just by trying to define one word: broadband.
The problem between the FCC and AT&T
reflect the priorities of each organiztion. As a business, AT&T wants to sell you as little as it can for the highest price you'll pay. The FCC, on the other hand, is tasked with mapping out a long-term broadband policy. It's a job no one is going to envy. Broadband is generally understood as "fast" Internet compared to dial-up (slow Internet). Now that cable and ADSL services have become common, it's no longer clear which devices are on one side of the line, and which aren't.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
The clash between the FCC and AT&T is over whether or not gaming should be considered a basic broadband need. AT&T would rather offer game services as an aspiration serve (translation: Pay to Play.) There's also questions concerning what percentage of an ISP's advertised speed should actually be consistently available. There are any number of factors that can affect or slow communication between the router and the ISP—the ISP isn't necessary at fault for that problem—but how much of the advertised speed would have to be available for the customer?
You'd think that a word so common would be easy to define, but in this case, it isn't. Broadband means different things to different people—all the government has to do now is decide what it means to the government, and by extension, all of the companies said definition would affect.
Good luck with that.