TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Broadband Use Jumps 34 Percent in USA According to FCC

Broadband Use Jumps 34 Percent in USA According to FCC

Lisa Minter (
Thu, 7 Jul 2005 15:23:45 -0500

The number of U.S. consumers and businesses that subscribe to
high-speed Internet service, or broadband, jumped 34 percent in 2004
to almost 38 million lines, according to new statistics released on

The United States lags 15 other countries in broadband coverage,
according to international statistics, but U.S. officials stressed
that some countries subsidize deployment and are more densely
populated in smaller areas.

Approximately 5.4 million subscribers were added during the second
half of 2004, according to a new Federal Communications Commission
report. The agency had previously reported adding 4.3 million
broadband lines in the first half of the year.

More consumers picked high-speed Internet from cable companies last
year than broadband from local telephone companies, known as digital
subscriber line service (DSL), according to the FCC report.

Cable companies added about 5 million customers during the year, a 30
percent increase to 21.4 million lines, while the number of DSL
subscribers climbed about 45 percent, or 4.3 million lines, to 13.8
million lines.

Cable and telephone companies are engaged in a fierce battle to offer
customers a suite of communications services. DSL is less expensive
than cable Internet service but offers slower download speeds.

Broadband is becoming more widely used as consumers want faster access
to the Internet for research, shopping, watching movies and
downloading music. President Bush pledged during his 2004 re-election
bid to ensure there would be universal access to broadband by 2007.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has made eliminating regulatory hurdles to
achieve that goal his top priority since taking the reins of the
agency earlier this year.

"The dramatic growth in broadband services depicted in this report
proves that we are well on our way to accomplishing the president's
goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007," Martin
said in an opinion piece published on Thursday in The Wall Street

He said the FCC should ease some old regulations on telephone
companies to put them on the same footing as cable operators, but
added that the government would not relinquish its role of protecting
consumers and aiding law enforcement.

"This means that we must treat all such providers in the same manner
-- free of undue regulation that can stifle infrastructure
investment," he said.

But one consumer advocate criticized FCC policies as harming
competition for broadband.

"Competitive Internet service providers are now history; the U.S. has
a duopoly -- cable and telephone industry -- over broadband," said
Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital
Democracy. "Both cable and telephone have a long history of
anti-competitive behavior."

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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