Comcast Exec Dismisses Broadband 'Hand-Wringing'

Says Critics of U.S. Status Disserve Policy with Misunderstood, Misused Stats
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Comcast global vice president of public policy Rebecca Arbogast dismissed the broadband bad-mouthers, telling a Free State Foundation policy forum crowd on Thursday that the U.S. was clearly a global leader in Internet.

The FCC, in its most recent state of broadband report, concluded once again that high-speed broadband was not being deployed to all Americans in a timely manner, based on the fact that some people still didn't have access.

Arbogast said that the hand-wringing over the "alleged failing and falling state of U.S. broadband" was mostly based on misunderstood and misused statistics. "That's not the way to make policy," she said.

She called speed comparisons between the U.S. and densely populated areas like Korea "silly at best."

She said the U.S. has the second most affordable entry level broadband and that the absolute price of broadband was essentially flat while speeds increased 900%. She pointed out that over the same time the cost of college has increased 72%. "That's a real problem," she said. "Broadband isn't."

Arbogast said that the U.S. was also a leader in what it did with broadband, including its impact on economic, political and social life.

Arbogast derided the oft-quoted stat that the U.S. is 22nd in broadband. "It is not true. It doesn't even rise to the level of 'truthiness' in the Colbertian sense." She pointed out that the stat appears to come from a three-and-a-half-year-old study. "That kind of disinformation is not a good basis for policy analysis."

She said adoption appears to have plateaued, and said everybody needs to do what they can. For its part, she plugged Comcast's Essentials program, which provides low-cost broadband to low-income homes with school-aged children.