San Francisco—Public investments in open access fiber networks, instead of more subsidies for broadband carriers, will bring high-speed internet on a more cost-efficient basis to millions of Americans and create an infrastructure that can handle internet growth for decades, according to a new report.
Commissioned by EFF, “Wholesale Fiber is the Key to Broad US Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) Coverage” shows how wholesale, open access networks that lease capacity to service providers who market to consumers are the most cost-effective and efficient way to end the digital divide that has left millions of people, particularly those in rural and low-income areas, with inadequate or no internet service. These inequities were laid bare by the pandemic, when millions of workers and schoolchildren needed high-speed internet.
Billions of dollars funneled to AT&T, Comcast, and others to provide minimum speeds has left more than half of America without 21st century-ready broadband access to date. Investing in wholesale fiber networks will promote competition and lower prices for consumers stuck on cable monopolies and efficiently replace legacy infrastructure.
A wholesale network model could cover close to 80 percent of the U.S. with fiber to the premises before government subsidies would even be necessary, whereas the existing broadband carrier model is expected to only 50 percent profitably, according to the report by Diffraction Analyses, an independent, global broadband consulting and research firm.
“We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the past,” said EFF Senior Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon. “The federal government and states like California are gearing up to potentially invest billions of dollars on broadband. This report includes economic models showing that funding wholesale broadband operations is a better long-term investment strategy. It will provide more coverage than throwing money at large publicly traded for-profit companies that are making a killing on the current model and have no incentive to change and deploy fiber.”
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Categories: Electronic Frontier Foundation