October 24, 2008 -- Once considered "the fertile crescent of Internet innovation," the United States now finds itself increasingly trailing the world in broadband, contends a recent report from Strategy Analytics. The report, "Sputnik Moment: The Call for a National Broadband Policy," suggests that only a coordinated and coherent national broadband plan will allow the US to regain its leadership role.
According to the technology research firm, the US has not come close to meeting the goal, enunciated by President George Bush in 2004, of "universal and affordable access by 2007." In fact, in the so-called "metrics that matter," including penetration, availability, speed and affordability, the US has been overtaken by other developed nations.
In the mid-nineties, the majority of Internet connections in the United States were at 28 kbps; today, typical speeds advertised by US Cable and DSL providers are in the 3 Mbps – 11 Mbps range. This metric still pales in comparison to what the typical Japanese or South Korean consumer receives, where 100 Mbps service is commonplace, and average data rates are on the order of 50 Mbps.
"The Soviet Union's successful launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957 was a wake up call for America. What ensued was a national rallying cry, unprecedented public funding and the creation of NASA," notes Ben Piper, director of the Strategy Analytics Multiplay Market Dynamics service. "We see the US facing another 'Sputnik moment' today - this time in broadband."
In addition to assessing the current global and national state of play for broadband, the report addresses the critical role broadband plays in society, and highlights the need for a comprehensive and rational broadband policy.
"Through inertia, complacency and false security, the United States was late out of the broadband starting gate, and has barely begun the game of catch up," Piper states. "The issue transcends one of simple national pride - the enormous economic and social effects of broadband warrant immediate action."
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