SPOT OF SUN-LIGHT
Broadband consumers in the U.S., have had a spate of bad news, both on the wired and wireless fronts in the past year. If you haven't been keeping track, let me count some of the ways:
- Our world rank in the provision of broadband relative to the price paid, has slipped to the mid-teens in recent years.
- The wired and wireless broadband providers are experimenting with putting caps on the amount of bandwidth consumed by their customers at given price points. In fact, most of the wireless broadband providers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint et al, have already started to put on caps to their "unlimited" data plans.
- The wired broadband providers have been implementing technologies in their networks to throttle down high-bandwidth applications like P2P (peer-to-peer) video services.
- The broadband providers continue to aggressively use their hefty lobbying capabilities with Beltway regulators on the network neutrality front.
- On the wireless front, efforts to provide municipal Wifi services across the country have been scaled back for a wide variety of reasons.
- Also on the wireless front, the widespread deployment of next generation Wimax wireless technologies by providers like Sprint, have also seen setbacks.
- Recent signs that carriers like Verizon, which won the recent wireless spectrum auction, maybe backing away from some of the open access conditions of those auctions.
So it was good to see a minor bit of good news on the wired broadband front today, from none other than Verizon on it's FIOS fiber broadband roll-out across the country. Here's an excerpt from DSLReports:
Verizon...has now expanded their 50Mbps/20Mbps FiOS tier into their entire footprint.
The company will also be expanding their symmetrical 20Mbps tier, previously only available in some States, to all of their users starting next week. The push is likely a pre-emptive strike against cable competitors like Comcast, who've only just begun deploying faster DOCSIS 3.0 speeds.
The 50/20 Mbps service will be available in New York and Virginia for $89.95, and in other States for $139.95 a month with an annual service plan. The 20/20 Mbps FiOS tier is available in all FiOS markets for $64.99 a month with an annual service plan (press release here, forum discussion here)."
It's not cheap, but it's increased competition for the cable broadband providers, and that's a good thing. Verizon's FIOS service has been a multi-billion investment initiative that has been the one small bright spot in the rolling out of relatively affordable, true broadband services in the U.S.
Not clear from the initial reports if FIOS has any bandwidth caps associated with the various pricing tiers.
We need a lot more competition from a host of other providers, but this is a small step in the right direction.