In a piece for Forbes, Bret Swanson of Entropy Economics (and an IIA Broadband Ambassador) tackles the notion that America is woefully behind when it comes to broadband availability:

[T]here is a big problem in the way the broadband story is being reported and anaylyzed. Somehow, conventional wisdom came to be that (1) American broadband lags the world and (2) the government needs to prop it up. Both are false. This story needs context and facts, not more fuzzy charges of U.S. sloth and supposed government rescues.

To really understand the policy issues, we need to understand networks and business models. For example, much of what we would want a gigabit broadband network to deliver is high definition video. That is what cable TV does. That’s why Verizon and AT&T, when they built their FiOS and U-verse fiber optic networks, decided to offer both broadband Internet services and cable-like video programming. Over time, the mix of broadcast and narrowcast video and interactive Internet content will shift. And the broadband service providers will adjust their network technologies and business models to both accommodate and drive these changes. Cable TV providers, for example, are dedicating ever more capacity to on-demand video and broadband and relatively less to broadcast. To suggest, however, that everyone in America needs a fiber optic gigabit Internet connection today is beyond simplistic.

Swanson’s piece is smart, technical, and definitely worth checking out.