About This Series
Telecommunications policy once was driven to a large degree by rational analysis and fact-based decision making. But over the last 15 years, ideology has started seeping in. Many “broadband populists” on the left now see the Internet as too important a technology to leave to market forces in the private sector. Policy arguments thus are no longer about what makes sense within the prevailing broadband market framework. Now they are existential: keep the current market-based system or overthrow it to establish a regulated utility model or government-provider model.
To achieve their vision, advocates of broadband “revolution” must do everything they can to impugn the current system, which is working well, to make it look like it is really failing. This is the context for most of the claims, arguments, and attacks populists have been leveling against the U.S. broadband system.
Against this backdrop, ITIF has set out to correct the record and expose how flimsy the evidence is for many broadband myths. In a series of short policy briefs, we will address various myths in turn, identifying where analysis is skewed and uncovering more accurate evidence.
“Do ISPs Engage in Digital Redlining?” ITIF briefing, April 2022.
- Geographic differences in broadband deployment exist, but ITIF’s analysis of Census data and facts on the ground show they are best explained by income variations and barriers to adoption, not by racial discrimination.
“Does Municipal Broadband Scale Well to Fit U.S. Broadband Needs?” ITIF briefing, June 2021.
- No, local governments generally are not well-suited to providing broadband service. Economic theory suggests city-run broadband would not serve the country well, and previous real-world attempts bear that out with a mixed track record marked by several failures.
“Do We Need Symmetrical Upload and Download Speeds?” ITIF briefing, May 2021.
- Assertions that symmetrical broadband is a national imperative are not well grounded in application demand or actual use of networks. Requiring symmetry in an infrastructure support program would drive up costs, reduce flexibility, and likely result in subsidies for redundant infrastructure in already served areas.
“Are High Broadband Prices Holding Back Adoption?” ITIF briefing, February 2021.
- Broadband affordability is a problem for some Americans, but not the “crisis” advocates claim. U.S. broadband prices are comparable with those charged abroad and by municipal networks. To ensure affordability for everyone, we need a better subsidy program, not changes to industry structure.
“Is It a National Imperative to Achieve Ultra-Fast Download Speeds?” ITIF briefing, November 2020.
- Some advocates are willing to take extreme steps to transform the U.S. broadband system, because they claim we require universal broadband networks capable of gigabit-per-second speeds. This is not true.
- All else being equal, more bandwidth is better than less, and investment that drives fiber deeper into access networks is welcome. But there is no need to radically change the competitive system that continues to expand network capacity.
“Introducing ITIF’s Broadband Myth Series,” ITIF commentary, November 2020.
- To achieve their vision, advocates of broadband “revolution” must do everything they can to impugn the current system, which is working well, to make it look like it is really failing. So ITIF has set out to correct the record and expose how flimsy the evidence is for many broadband myths.