Keen On… Internet Access: Does American Broadband Suck?

For years, it’s been taken for granted that the U.S. ranks low in the broadband performance table. But a controversial piece by ITIF’s Richard Bennett explodes the myth of poor U.S. broadband. Not everyone, however, agrees with Bennett. So, to debate the ITIF Senior Research Fellow, I invited Public Knowledge SVP Harold Feld, who has a much less positive take on America’s broadband reality. While acknowledging that American broadband performance has improved, Feld still believes that in certain respects, particularly rural access, American broadband is still pretty pathetic. “We suck less,” Feld insists, is hardly proof of America’s world beating broadband.

So why should Silicon Valley entrepreneurs care about this debate, I asked both Feld and Bennett. Their answers were identical. Low quality broadband, they both believe, kills digital innovation. Which is why, in spite of its occasional wonkishness, this debate about the quality of American broadband is critical to the success of the American 21st century digital economy.