Getting To Broadband For All

Ryan asked me what I thought about the news that the FCC is going to expand the Lifeline program, which provides a $9.25/month subsidy for phone (wired and wireless) to the poor, to include broadband.

In the short term it makes a ton of sense to me to say “you can use your $9.25/month subsidy to get broadband in addition to cell service” but I’m wondering if there isn’t more systemic and sustainable way to deal with the fact that 30% of US citizens still don’t have broadband at home.

The Lifeline program costs $1.7bn and is paid for by telecom service providers. It currently services 12mm households in the US.

There are roughly 330mm residents of the US, so approximately 100mm of them do not have broadband at home.

The Lifeline program alone is not going to solve this problem.

Part of the problem is that broadband is not available in certain rural locations. We have a home in Utah where there is no cable service and the best Internet we can get is 1.5 megabit DSL. And that connection is flaky at best. The minimum speed to qualify for “broadband” designation is currently 25 megabit and it is super hard to get that out of copper. This is not a new problem. There was a similar problem getting phone service out to rural locations in the last century.

Part of the problem is that broadband is too expensive for people living off very low incomes or no income. Time Warner Cable provides 15down/1up for $35/month. And that isn’t even technically “broadband”.

And some of those 100mm that don’t have broadband at home don’t want it. They either don’t have Internet, they have dial-up, or they use their phones when they want the Internet.

But if we look forward twenty or thirty years, the percentage of people who are going to want to live without broadband at home will likely decline to near zero. So coming up with some way to address this issue is an important policy issue and one that I’ve thought a lot about.

It seems to me that wireless is the way forward. It avoids the cost of running cable to every home and it also recognizes that people need broadband wherever they are.

I believe it is time for the US to rethink our wireless strategy. Currently we auction off spectrum to the highest bidder, raising tens of billions for the US Treasury, and then tax the winners a small portion of their revenue to provide a small benefit ($9.25/month) that doesn’t even come close to getting us to universal access. If you think of the annual cost of Lifeline ($1.7bn per year) over a decade, that is in the ballpark of what a wireless carrier will pay for a big band of licensed spectrum.

What if, instead of auctioning off spectrum to the highest bidder, we took some of our best spectrum and made it available to everyone to innovate on, like the Wifi spectrum is? And what if we provided tax subsidies to entrepreneurs who want to build out rural broadband companies using that unlicensed spectrum? And what if we provided free real estate for cell towers on our public housing projects, our school buildings, and our libraries in return for providing open and public networks in and around those tower locations?

We need to change the basis of competition in the wireless broadband industry if we want to get to universal access. We can’t keep maintaining a small oligopoly in wireless in this country and think that somehow we are magically going to get to universal access. We must create policy frameworks that allow thousands of new wireless telecommunications companies to get started in the coming years and we need to create economic incentives for these new entrants to build out networks where it is less attractive to do so. That will have the additional result of causing the incumbents to decide to compete in these less attractive areas as well. We’ve seen that with Google Fiber and some muni fibers efforts already.

I don’t buy into the conservative argument that we cannot afford to provide benefits to those who can’t afford them. I don’t buy into the liberal argument that we must tax and spend our way into solving these problems. I buy into the capitalist argument that if we create the right economic structures and incentives, entrepreneurs can and will solve these problems in a sustainable way. And I think that is the answer with universal broadband.

#hacking government#policy

Comments (Archived):

  1. creative group

    Fred:your view on the expansion of broadband to the entire US population was eliminating. I have always been a registered Independent and understood the historical contributions of the Republican party from 1854-1865 and Legislation that benefited the country from various Democratic administrations. The Supreme Courts Citizens United decision has ruined the political landscape of this country and made it difficult to actual enact many of the detailed commonsense remedies you cited to expand broadband in this country.The capitalistic solution can be used via a strong lobby or technology companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, etc) convincing both parties it is the best solution to expand broadband.

  2. Bob Vance

    I agree Fred, an open competitive environment is necessary. Rather than outlawing competition and protecting incumbents.However, you will not get there with more regulation.

  3. WA

    Social entrepreneurship + Engaged leadership = Optimized capitalism at its best.

  4. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I believe that with IoT much “denser value per unit territory” will be transmitted digitally.For example a washer/dryer machine will provide clothes clean before 07:00 am and will find best market electicrity price during that period for the wash/spin cycle (say 3 am) then wait for forecast lowest absolute humidity for the dryer cycle say 6am). It will this need market pricing info from the grid or its market proxy (it might sell a blockchain contract to not consume from “its outlet” for certain periods), it will need weather forecasts and a portable remote API for the householder to interact with.Taking this example we already see in Germany occasional market balance pricing -200* the price or energy. (Yes consumers paid to take load from the grid to allow generators to run during high/volatile renewable availability). The value of such “Demand response” functionality in the UK is already around $50,000 per megawatt annually or about 3% of cost.If communications infrastructure is to be seen as a societal norm, it seems that a better monetization strategy through collaborations may be possible. Why should my phone not mesh with my dishwasher to share bandwidth (a mixture of media is possible, landline, radio etc) and currently the carriers are in silos. Disruption opportunities abound.

  5. Tom Labus

    Satellite Broadband seems the way to go at this point since rules and regs not too bad as yet. I hope

    1. William Mougayar

      Not so fast. I have been on satellite broadband for 16 years because of where we live. And had 3 generations of systems with upgrades (using the Hughes network).It’s a stop gap, really. It’s still expensive, the speeds aren’t there, the uploads are slow, and the latency is a killer (1second). I pay $100/month for an upper package giving me 40 GB total per month, with 5MB down and .5M up on a good day. I hate it, but I have no choice. I complement this with another LTE rocket hub router for $60/month to get slightly better speeds, but very expensive if I consume more than 5GB/month on it.The better solution is what’s called “Fixed wireless”, but it requires line of sight (up to 5 miles) into transmission towers that need to be installed, and I don’t have that where I live. I am in a rural country area, but not that far from the city.

      1. JamesHRH

        A friend who is in the same situation:’ Its supposed to be hi-speed internet, but its more like speed.’

      2. Tom Labus

        New ones too?

  6. William Mougayar

    Canada is in the same situation, despite the government’s mild effort to subsidize investments in rural access broadband. The New America Foundation published a report comparing costs worldwide, and it’s not pretty for North America. (See graphs below)…

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      OK Zurich is looking good – but its a pass, two valleys and a lake away. Just to note rural areas are still somewhat limited. But then Switzerland is so small and strange that Alice found it shortly after the smile of the Cheshire cat.

    2. JamesHRH

      Every time I see those number, it frustrates & amazes me.

      1. William Mougayar


  7. awaldstein

    The idea of localizing hubs with towers on public building real estate like firehouses and school touches on disruption and innovation from all sides.

    1. JLM

      .The big issue with cell phone towers is the power supply. It can be massive.A cell phone tower is a massive sail standing up in the wind. Most buildings cannot be retrofitted to resist those kind of “moment” loads.The other big problem is vibration as the tower is struck by the wind and begins to resist and vibrate from its original position and back again. This vibration is deadly to buildings. Some buildings, like masonry buildings, will simply crack and disintegrate.I once put an enormous flagpole on the roof of a building and had to carry the load to the basement to get rid of or dampen the vibration.That flag is forty feet long.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. awaldstein

        I’m sure you are right.Hey–if they actually–and they have–finally created an app that lets you get delivery within the hour from any restaurant anywhere in Manhattan to wherever you live–they can conquer anything.orderahead app is the one.It’s like Nirvana and I’m sitting on my roof ordering some black bean burgers with gluten free bread and a easy over egg from the LES to be delivered to TriBeCa. The internet finally cracks the code of really doing something that matters!

        1. LE

          I’ve given some thought to this. Not for any particular reason I just have.In theory if the demand for in home delivery continues to increase there is no reason it couldn’t be operated similar to a fedex hub and spoke system. To anyone not familiar with that when you ship something Fedex/UPS/Postal Service [0] the package isn’t picked up and delivered by the same driver. It goes through hub or hubs and is handled by many different people. Delivery guy has nothing to do with the pickup girl. Most efficient system at scale.Let’s now say that instead of a driver delivering who is employed by a restaurant, or even by a delivery service, what you have is a truck or trucks that constantly circles the block [1] where there are 10 restaurants. The restaurants signal when they have an order and the closest truck “musical chairs” stops and picks up the order never having to park (let’s say it’s even brought out to them). Doesn’t matter where the food is going to either. Next truck pick up the order.That truck is then met by another truck which circles a larger area that is in charge of meeting up with the local truck that circles the block that you live on. All easily coordinated by wireless and by algorithms.In the simplest example there is only one neighborhood with restaurants and one neighborhood with customers and there and 3 trucks. The middle truck runs a monorail type loop. So do the two trucks on the ends.[0] Local couriers also work this way. They pickup from you, take to an airport and put on a plane and then another courier delivers in the destination city. The plane in this example is the circling monorail. The other two nodes are not.[1] Where “block” is an area that could be several blocks just a defined geography that somehow makes sense.

          1. awaldstein

            If you are interested dig into how uber, instacart and a hundred others work. All variations on a theme. All interesing.In NYthere is no such thing as a loop of course. And cars are not the best means of delivery.Add to that perishable goods like my sandwhich. The more hands it touches the longer it takes the colder it gets the hungrier I am.

          2. LE

            All academic on my part of course but I think what I am talking about is assembly line and/or “human chain” type efficiency. [1]Each labor unit repeated handles only a discreet activity not the entire portal to portal delivery. [2]I can definitely visualize this in my head can even see one of the transportation parts being handled by subway, bike, pedicab whatever.At scale of course it takes less labor and less time and your sandwich does not get cold.I am actually surprised that big companies like UPS or Fedex who do regular pickups don’t offer at least some customers an “early warning” device (with an incentive to use that device) to tell them that the driver is “x minutes away” so be prepared. As a result the driver often waits a minute or because the only notification is when he walks in the door.[1]…[2] When I was a kid I got paid to do piecework. Later in my business we did assembly type work for people. Generally much more efficient to do all of one activity in a row and then the next activity (assembly line style) than to have one person do everything start to finish.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            > [2] When I was a kid I got paid to dopiecework. Later in my business we didassembly type work for people. Generallymuch more efficient to do all of oneactivity in a row and then the nextactivity (assembly line style) than tohave one person do everything start tofinish.Sure it is: Generally for a ‘job shop’,want to know which ‘station’ does whatwork when.Turns out that’s a problem in’combinatorial optimization’, often is a’traveling salesman’ problem, and usuallyin NP-complete which means that anyone whocan find an algorithm that runs on worstcases in time only a polynomial in thesize of the problem will have solved oneof the most important problems in math andcomputer science and get the $1 millionprize from Clay Math in Boston.They will quickly get a tenured, chairedprofessorship at a leading researchuniversity, likely their choice, and, ifyoung enough, likely find some friendlycoeds eager for some proven genes.Still, success can still be possible inpractice.Here’s one: Have a sequential assemblyline with 10 stations, have 10 workers,and know how fast each worker can do thework at each of the 10 stations.So, your mission is to assign the 10workers to the 10 stations to maximize thefastest possible speed of the assemblyline.Of course the number of ways to do this is1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 =3,628,800so maybe don’t want to try them all.But, may have 100 workers to pick from forthe 10 stations. Now the number of waysis100 * 99 * 98 * 97 * 96 * 95 * 94 * 93 *92 * 91 = 62,815,650,955,529,472,000where probably don’t want to try them all.Same problem: Given two communicationssatellites from NASA and 10 signals. Onone of the satellites need to assign the10 signals to 10 channels to minimize theworst case of interference between thetwo satellites.While I had a part time job in grad schoolsupporting my wife and I through oureducations, I got this problem — reallywas real and from NASA.So, sure, right away: Can attack withlinear integer programming (generally alsoin NP-complete).I outlined how, and another guy used aninteger linear programming package to geta solution and reported to me that hiscode worked.I told him, sure it did: The integer partof the code never got used because hestarted with an integer basic feasiblesolution and, for that problem, the linearprogramming simplex algorithm retained aninteger solution and found an optimalinteger solution with no extra effort. Weknow this because the problem is linearprogramming on a network with integercapacities where the network simplexalgorithm obviously has this integerproperty — then, so does a generalsimplex algorithm on any such problem.Or, it’s called the ‘bottleneck assignmentproblem’.There’s a super-cute, blazingly fastapproach via exploiting simple linearprogramming ‘post optimality’.On the problem of the 10 stations and the100 workers, the code should just scream,be done before could get finger off theenter key, yes, for the case of100 * 99 * 98 * 97 * 96 * 95 * 94 * 93 *92 * 91 = 62,815,650,955,529,472,000Lesson: Some of these industrial problemsin combinatorial optimization actuallyhave really easy solutions. Not all ofthe problems are agonizingly difficult.

          4. awaldstein

            Notification of the status of your item, be it uber or delivery is a ‘must have’ and most is what is disenfranchising things like seamless and why many of the cool newcomers will get snapped up.

          5. LE

            I am wondering if that notification is a further use case for the Apple Watch? My phone is not always where I am. A watch in theory is on your wrist at all times. I don’t do any takeout delivery at all (I pickup by car on the way home from the office and I actually enjoy doing so) so I am not in a position to evaluate like you are at the seat of the pants level.For that matter some restaurants notify a ready table by text messages rather than buzzer device. However it’s sometimes hard to hear the text message in an active restaurant. Apple Watch on the wrist is an advancement of that.My gold standard notification app would be called “I can talk now”. It’s where you assign a rough time to a phone conversation but don’t call until the other party is marked as “ok free for a call now”. Would love to have that with my mom.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            LE, I hate to bring up something reallyugly that causes big headaches, but you’retalking big capex and opex bucks for aproblem with a lot of ‘uncertainty’, i.e.,randomness, and need to find a way that ischeapest or nearly so in expected value.Yes, I know the FedEx story: I was theguy who designed, wrote, and, with RogerFrock, used the fleet scheduling softwarethat pleased founder Fred Smith, ourrepresentatives of BoD Member GeneralDynamics, and the BoD and saved thecompany — literally.What you are describing is, shall we say,a ‘dial-a-ride’ heuristic. For why’dial-a-ride’, I just said that, but it’san old problem and field. One of my Ph.D.dissertation advisors tried to get meinterested in that problem, but I pickedanother problem that I regarded as muchmore promising. One key to success: Goodinitial problem selection.Still, as in the thread here, the’dial-a-ride’ problem is still important.Maybe your heuristic is terrific, but weshould have solid means of knowing.What is needed is to know a ‘way’ that isthe cheapest or nearly so — else maybesomeone else will call me up, I’ll writeout some applied math, possibly new withtheorems and proofs, and some software,and we’ll be making good money with ourlower capex/opex from our ‘technologicaladvantage’ while you and your guys aregoing bust.Yes, such math can be that important.Yes, no one in business wants to admitthis, and they won’t until a lot ofmathematicians have yachts, but businessis really slow on the uptake here. Or,watch James Simons at…His success hasn’t stopped what hedescribed, someone running in saying thatGoogle is over priced and we should shortthe thing. Simons never does any suchthing — watch the video.Yes, mostly he has a lot of quite cleverapplied statistics, but, really, that’sessentially what is needed for evaluatingan efficient ‘dial-a-ride’ system.Yes, now with Uber, Amazon same daydeliveries, delivery from Sam’s Club,restaurant deliveries, etc., this’dial-a-ride’ problem is becoming moreimportant.Of course there have long been othervehicle scheduling and routing problems,and now maybe there is enough data on thestreets and traffic to get much bettersolutions.Will anyone in actual, real businessattack the dial-a-ride problem seriously?Naw! Not a chance!Yes, a long time ago a group at MIT madean effort, but their results looked like agigantic, complicated ‘maybe’. Don’t pickup their report because dropping it couldbreak a foot. I’m not sure anyone has agood idea for a ‘clean’ solution.Why will business not attack this problem?Because organizations still work like aHenry Ford factory where the supervisor issupposed to know more and the subordinate,less and to add essentially routine laborto the ideas of the supervisor. Then,nearly no supervisor in US business isgood enough with applied math to know howto solve the problem and, of course,doesn’t want to bet part of his careersponsoring work by a subordinate doingwork the supervisor doesn’t understand.E.g., typically US business will go to a’computer science’ department. A.s.(‘almost surely’) wrong! It’s a mathproblem, guys. Yes, there will need to besome computer usage, but it’s not acomputer science problem.US business doesn’t know how to evaluateoriginal, powerful, valuable, advancedwork in math, is afraid of math, likelyresents any claim of any promise of math,wishes math would just go away, doesn’thave the biggie, famous examples, e.g.,yachts, of math successes they want to see(the US DoD does — thankfully for USnational security), and doesn’t knock onthe doors of mathematicians; the flip sideof this situation is a nice businessopportunity.Simons is an exception: He’s a darnedtalented, knowledgeable, determinedmathematician and can review and superviseessentially anything likely includingRussian mathematical physicists talking Itôintegration.And clearly Wall Street would like just tof’get about Simons.Similarly for IoT as earlier in thisthread: Generally such problems are bestdecision making over time underuncertainty, that is, cases of stochasticoptimal control. Big names include R.Bellman, E. Dynkin, R. Rockafellar.I know; I know; I know; with Moore’s lawand massive parallelism, and typicallystochastic optimal control can easily usemassive parallelism, there’s plenty ofcomputing, right? Maybe not: Numericalstochastic optimal control can consumecomputing that makes the usual Googleserver farm look like an abacus. But withstochastic optimal control, still, attimes, there are opportunities includingsome quite reasonable ones. E.g., I didone in my Ph.D. dissertation.What can be done with better’dial-a-ride’? I don’t know and wouldhave to think about it. Likely gettingsuch a project to fly in business would beless fun than an unanesthetized, uppermolar root canal procedure done with aBlack and Decker electric drill with an1/8″ masonry bit.Besides, careful problem selection remainsimportant, and I have a better problem andnow have got the production qualitysoftware running!

          7. LE

            LE, I hate to bring up something really ugly that causes big headaches, but you’re talking big capex and opex bucks for a problem with a lot of ‘uncertainty’, i.e., randomnessIt’s actually fairly easy to test. Pick one geographic area that represents where the restaurants are and one geographic area that represents where the customers are. Give the target customers 50% off to create orders (critical mass demand) of which 10% is the cost to the food venues. (Play with the number percentages point is you want enough orders to test out IRL.) Run the experiment for 1 week let’s say. See if it works. See how it flows.You can talk all you want about math, numbers, analysis and theories. Those represent a much different scale of a problem. Sometimes it is just easiest and best to go out there with a quick and dirty test.

          8. sigmaalgebra

            What you said is fine, e.g., make anempirical dimensional search onprice.But we’re not talking about the samething: I was talking about how toget the capex/opex cost for thedelivery system down. That is, youdescribed one approach to how to makethe deliveries. Well, there can betrillions of such approaches, toomany to evaluate just by empirical’field trials’ one at a time such asyou described. So, need some appliedmath to pick from the trillions. Ifdon’t do a good job on the deliverysystem, then a competitor might havemuch lower delivery costs.’Economy of scale point’: A merchantneeding to make such deliveries, say,in Manhattan, a jug of iced tea, acorned beef on rye with Russiandressing, and some baklava, mightbetter ‘outsource’ the deliveries toa company that has a lot of volumeand, thus, commonly can make severaldeliveries in a small area and saveon costs. So, be the 900 poundgorilla in such deliveries, get aspecial version of a ‘networkeffect’, have much lower costs perdelivery than any small competitor,and, thus, have close to a ‘naturalmonopoly’.

  8. andyswan

    It’s so much less fun to agree with you, Fred.

    1. Richard

      Yep, it makes no sense for the fed gov to auction the airwaves and then have the winner maximize revenue. It’s a loose loose for the average American. The auction should be a reverse auction and the price should be the price for user access (period).

  9. JLM

    .The Lifeline program has been around since 1985. Its objective was then — and supposedly now — to allow low income folks (135% of Fed poverty guidelines — bit more about that in a second) to be able to apply for jobs, stay in touch with family and summon emergency assistance.That is still the standard under the law. It has specific, legal standards of service. It calls for “basic phone service” and nothing else.Eligibility was expanded to include ANYONE on Medicaid, food stamps (WIC, SNAP), low income home energy assistance, TANF, school lunch programs, Indian Affairs general assistance, Head Start or any state assistance program.This is a huge pool of people and some of these folks are not really at or below the poverty line. As an example, I could have sent one of my children to a public school that had a school lunch program and have been eligible.It was always supposed to be poverty driven not service area driven.You could get assistance on a land line and when cell phones came about, you could get assistance on a cell phone, but not both. There was a one per family or economic unit limitation.When cell phones came about, this program was used to create huge databases of users which were purloined for political purposes by people like ACORN. The data was controlled by an entity called the Universal Service Administrative Company. Think of the IRS being run by the Democrats — oops, sorry. I forgot.When it became apparent what was possible here — read “Obamaphone” — this program became a political football but one that had substantial funding and which had an enormous amount of waste (several members of the same economic unit receiving assistance simultaneously) and political skullduggery.People like ACORN would sign up folks and tell them that they were providing the service and thereby engender political loyalty.The cell phone companies created tailor made programs which provided very simple service for the payment. It was a way for them to obtain millions of additional subscribers and to get paid by the gov’t, not an individual. The cell phone companies became willing participants in the fraud — not all, but some.The cell phone companies are the ones pushing adding broadband to the mix because they know who will be selling the folks the broadband. No mysteries there, right?The addition of broadband is only a PILOT PROGRAM. It has not been approved for systemwide implementation. The Pilot Program was initiated in 2012 and is really 14 project in 21 states and Puerto Rico. It was supposed to end in 2014 and the FCC was to issue a report in 2015.Critics are tempted to point out that the states selected for the pilot program are those that would be most beneficial to the Democrats in a Presidential election.Broadband service is way beyond the “lifeline” service that was authorized by the law. All of the broadening of the mission has been accomplished by agency orders and very little by Congressional action.To the issue of the availability of broadband in rural areas — there is a well established push to put Internet connections in rural areas. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.In my personal experience, before they got rip roaring crackerjack Internet service in Steamboat Springs, Colo — I used to go to the library to check my email. Now, of course, they have fabulous service. SBS is a little bit of heaven that is pretty damn remote. The library still has free computers and Internet service. When I go there, it is rarely in use and I have never failed to see an empty terminal.The mountains around SBS are pretty damn remote.This push to put Internet service in libraries, schools and public assemblies (City Halls, courthouses) is probably the right solution rather than trying to bring the Internet to every trailer in the woods in rural America.It is simply not true to suggest that conservatives are reluctant to provide benefits to those who cannot afford them. Every benefit program ever conceived is provided to people who cannot afford them. If they could afford them, they wouldn’t need the benefit.What is fair to say is that thoughtful members of Congress are reluctant to expand a program which was intended to provide poor people with a way to apply for jobs, stay in touch with family and to summon emergency assistance without additional Congressional action.While the funding is slightly camouflaged, it is still massive. It has been abused. The agency has expanded its charter — a very limited charter — without Congressional action.The library — and other public locations in rural areas — approach is the way to go.I personally am in favor of every person on the planet having access to the Internet but this program is not the right vehicle and passing that cost along to the public through their cell phone bills is not the right funding mechanism.Remember when the Net Neutrality rules were made in the dark of night? They allow the same bunch to assess fees on your Internet bill. Where do you think this program is going to be funded?And, you believed them when they said they had no intention to tax the Internet. We’re so cute when we’re so gullible.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Richard

      It may be time to put the brakes on “any” additonal taxes on middle income families? (those with incomes <400k year.)

      1. JLM

        .The compression of middle class incomes is forcing them to the bottom of the pile.It is not just wages — which are essentially declining and stagnant at best. It is also the impact of Obamacare on the cost of insurance and the imposition of massive deductibles.For the last decade, middle class income has declined. Now the impact of higher insurance costs and enormous deductibles will make getting sick a catastrophe — exactly what Obamacare was supposed to prevent. In fact, it has accelerated the problem.Add to that the prospect of 10-20MM low skill, low wage illegal immigrants coming out of the shadows and competing for many of those jobs.We are on a collision course with disaster.I believe this was the lesson of the 2014 election wherein voter turnout and voting patterns demonstrated that people were voting their pocketbooks, not their politics.This was particularly true in the Senate races where all but one Democrat got smoked. Some of those Dem Senators were dynasties who would never have been defeated. I was surprised at how comprehensive it was. Guys like Reince Preibus and the Brain (you know who I mean, right?) were surprised.The middle class doesn’t just deserve no new taxes, they cannot survive them. They can’t survive unless the economy gets going, unless the immigration issue is equitably solved and unless the cost of healthcare/insurance is controlled.Nobody is talking about this real problem. We are killing the milk cows while debating the issue of milk pasteurization. Soon, we will be out of cows to milk.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Richard

          Yep, we are in a new demographic era of smaller families, waiting longer to start families. if we looked at a distribution plot of net income after all taxes and fees, and housing / healthcare costs, It would be a hockey stick.

          1. JLM

            .It would be a hockey stick to the balls.Still, kids who get the right degrees are going to do just fine.Perfect Daughter, creative director of a big startup in NYC, is marrying a guy with a master’s in accounting who works for his family business.They will have an enormous income between the two of. Of course, he doesn’t yet know my daughter’s spending habits — he’ll need it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. LE

            It would be a hockey stick to the balls.They need to try that on mythbusters.Perfect Daughter, creative director of a big startup in NYC, is marrying a guy with a master’s in accounting who works for his family business.Well congratulations! But you need to do an intervention and get him away from that family business thing. I could give you plenty of stories and thoughts on that. In short: He will never be his own man.An example (and this is only one example of many). My cousin who is perhaps 5 years older than I am has been working in the family business (wholesale importer and owns real estate) since college. His father (my uncle) died last year but his mother is still alive. Although he makes really good money his mom is essentially the defacto boss of his entire life. And his son who works in the family business as well has to constantly cater to all of his mother’s needs (leaves work to pick her up and take her places etc.). Because essentially the mother (my aunt) exercises control over money and the final decision. So his mother may give him freedom but in the end his mother is like the janitor that controls the supply cabinet that can give you a hard time.I am lucky because I almost ended up in the exact same place but didn’t. Remembering how my Dad gave me such a hard time when I had my own company (and he had no control at all) made me realize how lucky I was that I didn’t go that route (I almost had to but that is a different story for another day..)While it is quite possible that your future son in law can take the business and make it his own, the fact that it’s a family business will always hang over him. Better for him to have less and to feel as if he is the one who made it happen. I feel very strongly about this feel free to write me for further thoughts.To me freedom and not being under someone’s thumb is much more important than money is.

          3. JLM

            .Haha, that is probably good advice. The young man Perfect Daughter is marrying is a Jewish accountant. I love him. I always told her that if she didn’t marry him, I intended to adopt him.He came to ask my permission — what a hoot.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. LE

            That’s great that you like him and you no doubt that you would be the father in law that I never had. That was always a “grass is greener” type of thing with me.It wouldn’t surprise me also that the fact that you are the father in law played into the young man’s decision to marry your daughter. I once stayed way longer than I should have with a girl simply because I liked her family. Because I typically hate that type of “family time” thing. Nothing special about the family either (they weren’t wealthy or otherwise “remarkable” I just liked spending time with them which was really unusual for me..).The first girl that I ever dated had a father who ran an HVAC repair service. He really liked me and would take me out with him on calls and give me all sorts of interesting narrative “I have to spend time here doing something or they won’t pay anything if I just tell them that the circuit breaker popped!”. “Everybody rips people off on freon but some guys are real pigs charging for 20x lbs pumped into a system!”.I am just up to the part in “The Aviator” where Hughes meets Hepburn’s family. A great scene. You know when he starts to say what he does and the mom cuts him off and forks to another story. That was my first engagement family (luckily broke that one off).I did “the permission” thing when I got remarried about 4 years ago. We had already bought a house and had been living together for about a year. Was no big surprise. I think I did it the first time around as well.

          5. JLM

            .There is something sweet about observing the traditions of marriage. It is the real world.He is a very nice young man. We are all lucky. From Savannah.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          6. LE

            By the way I feel very strongly about this, especially since you are there to help him with advice and possibly money. Also because no question he can always come back to the family business later if he needs to.

        2. SubstrateUndertow

          High healthcare costs !Blame Obama why don’t you, he apparently is to blame for every problem in America today.Just adopt universal healthcare like every other 1st world country on the damn planet and be done with all your crying about that self inflicted ideological financial wound.Obamacare was just a force-fed unworkable universal-healthcare compromise intended to guarantee its longterm failure.On the flip side of that assertionmaybe very other 1st world country has just gotten lucky with universal healthcare for the few decades 🙂

          1. JLM

            .You are talking to a guy who for 33 years as a CEO found a way to provide health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance and a wellness program to hundreds of employees in both public and private companies.To be specific, it was provided with no government assistance other than it being tax deductible to the company while not being income to the individual.Did it when profitable and when not.So, spare me your political histrionics about blaming Obama. I was in the game when he was smoking pot in high school.My folks were treated just fine and happy as clams — at my expense. The company wrote the checks and the internal company committee got to bid, analyze and select the coverage.What changed was an incredibly poorly designed system which penalized companies who had acted responsibly (by categorizing plans like mine as Cadillac plans and thereby disallowing them) while allowing insurance companies to reprice every marginal plan on their books amidst the insanity of enacting a Federal law that had to be administered by the individual states.This one structural error — a Federal law forcing state behavior — was fatal. Already, states like Hawaii have crashed and burned. This is an enormous financial disaster.http://www.huffingtonpost.c…Who gets the blame for screwing the pooch? I think we both know the answer — the honest and correct answer — to that.Policy decisions have consequences. The fact that the law was jammed through Congress without subcommittee hearings, committee hearings, floor debate, no amendments along a straight party line vote makes only person and party responsible for its results.The madness is that we still have a huge number of uninsured. We have experienced an enormous increase in the cost of health insurance — premiums and skyrocketing deductibles.The big winners? The insurance companies.One has only to look at the 2014 elections to see how America really feels. Every Dem Senator in play, save one, was defeated.As the President said, “His policies were on the ballot.” His policies got smoked.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            That is all well and good and commendable on your part but in the larger frame of universal cost-effective healthcare it changes nothing.I agree Obamacare was doomed to fail as I stated:”Obamacare was just a force-fed unworkable universal-healthcare compromise intended to guarantee its longterm failure.”As you state:”The madness is that we still have a huge number of uninsured. We have experienced an enormous increase in the cost of health insurance — premiums and skyrocketing deductibles.”Those problems are the outcome of heavily intrenched ideological dogma that refused to consider the success of single payer universal healthcare that has stood the test of time in most every other 1st world country.The States vs Federal powers issue is simple a complication that needs a workable comprise in order to accommodate a made in America solution for creating a single payer universal healthcare system.And yes that intrenched ideological dogma continues to provide the insurance companies a winning hand at America’s expense.In summary:I agree with you more than you agree with yourself !”

          3. JLM

            .There were two things that could have been done as part of Obamacare that would have changed the outcome dramatically.First, insurance policies should have been nationwide. This would have created bigger pools of competition while streamlining administration.As it is, some individual insurance companies have almost monopolistic control over individual states because they already had massive marketshare when the gun fired starting the race.Some states can’t administer their own exchanges to disastrous results — Hawaii has died a dramatic, expensive and tragic death. Other states are in the ICU.Nationwide policies would have set off enormous competition.Second, tort reform would have frozen or dampened the lottery ticket aspect of medical litigation. Texas enacted tort reform and it has been a good thing for everyone — except for ambulance chasing, contingency fee lawyers.Huge legal lottery tickets deprive the victim of a portion of their recovery, encourage more outlandish behavior, clog the trial and appellate courts and create a sweepstakes cycle of political contributions which further entrenches bad practices.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Dave Pinsen

        That’s a rather expansive definition of “middle income”. Only 1.5% of US households have incomes higher than $250k per year.

        1. Richard

          I don’t buy the significance of that stat, toss out those no longer in the workforce and adjust for 2 income families and 2 people living just living together, in Major metro areas

    2. William Mougayar

      “I personally am in favor of every person on the planet having access to the Internet.”I agree with you more than you agree with yourself on this, and was thinking the exact same thing yesterday. Internet access should be as essential as water. I think spreading information, knowledge and education via the Internet to every corner of the world would be a very good thing. And broadband is even better, because it raises the proximity levels via video and real-time interactions.

    3. creative group

      JLM:The historical and informational content and background on the Lifeline program was appreciated. But the obvious political slant could have been omitted.Again I am a true Independent (Not a Republican shamed intoswitching to the Independent label after eight years of W Bush or Libertarians who have no real party but switch between Republican and Independent labels or Democrats shamed by conservatives because of Obama)This two party system has and is ruining The United States of America with this partisan venom. No discussion is complete with injecting why the other party stinks. This occurred after the election of Obama. All excuses can be used why.I was fortune to decipher the facts you outlined verses the political slant.I should be grateful for that. Just to remind you I just researched the vote count on the Lifeline program and the expansion. You will be surprised how many Republicans voted in favor of it.Is everyone forgetting that the US Government was instrumental in creating the platform of the internet and not private enterprise who are monetizing a medium they didn’t create.We continue with selective memory and short term memory.

      1. JLM

        .Hate to break it to you, CG, but the US Congress is a political body. It is made up of politicians.The politics of legislation is a real world consideration. Both parties are guilty of advancing legislation to support their own election fortunes. There are no saints in the Congress or the White House.The two parties have dramatically different ideas of how the nation should be governed.Smart voters find the policies they find favorable and vote for the men and women who will advance those policies.The Founding Fathers brilliantly designed a system in which the pendulum of power and the power of deliberation would swing. It is a great system and, sometimes, grid lock is the best short term outcome possible.To suggest that either politics or governing philosophy should not be considered in the making of public policy betrays a naive, t-ball view of the world.Personally, I am a voter who allies himself with policy initiatives I believe in and support politicians who will advance those causes. Their party affiliation is of no consequence to me.I am a Lloyd Bentsen Texas supporter (back in the day) and think that Elizabeth Warren has it right on the banks and Wall Street — not to say that Fauxcohantus isn’t nuts, mind you.You cannot divorce politics from governing. Deal with it.BTW, on the off chance I have been unable to offend you — there is no such thing as an Independent or a unicorn. Sorry.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          Liz would fail unfortunately because she is not “a player”. Just boil it down to the simplest human instinct. It is not about the smartest or the nicest or the most informed or the Harvard degrees. It’s about playing the game well and making tradeoffs and compromises and being just sleazy enough to get the work done.Many years ago I was involved in something and a group I was in was going to vote on an issue. I took the opposite position than the one that I actually wanted just so that I could give someone the opportunity to call me up and convince me to go the way he wanted (which was also the way that I wanted as mentioned). So call he did and after a brief discussion I agreed with him! And was able, in exchange for that, to extract agreement on something that mattered to me. Of course this wouldn’t work every single day and every single time. It’s a nuance and chosen when appropriate. The game changes. Politics is a game.

          1. JLM

            .Life is a game. Politics is just part of life.”I agree with you …” You know the rest.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. creative group

          The Independent party that exists is the only political party with base issues I have embraced. If the Whig Party still existed I would be a Whig.…I am not a revisionist but view history for actually what occurred and not change it to suit my current views. (Example there where no WMD in Iraq but people who supported the justification to authorize that war continue to justify it by any means necessary)You could never offend this native New Yorker.Lloyd Bentsen the former Senator from Texas who died in Houston in 2006 and was Al Gore’s running mate against elder Bush was well regarded on bothsides of the aisle and known for his debates against Dan Qualye in 1988Vice Presidental debates.Historical background:Republican Dan Quayle had his words used against him during the 1988 vice presidential debates after he likened his political experience to that of John F. Kennedy. Democratic opponent Lloyd Bentsen’s response: “I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Quayle’s miffed comeback — “That was really uncalled for, Senator” — had to wait until the laughter died down.…I cite and remember history as it was and not as I want it to be.Back to the Lifeline program.How will this program get back on track and provide the intended purposefor those under the poverty line?

          1. JLM

            .While I personally do not like this utterance — you cannot change the course of politics by taking a seat on the margin.Ross Perot changed the course of history when he saddled his own vanity to his checkbook and took 18% in 1992 and 8.7% in 1996.A guy, named Clinton, with a six pack, an El Camino and a hard on was elevated because of this marginal action by this egomaniac. The rest is history.Lloyd Bentsen was a very good politician. Interestingly enough, so was Dan Quayle.I played golf with Dan Quayle, Coach Darrell Royal and Coach Tom Landry one afternoon at a Rick Perry fundraiser. Rick set that foursome up for me.Dan Quayle proceeded to run down the entire nation’s congressional competition. He was one of the smartest guys I ever met in my life.He also could crush a golf ball and looked like he could start in the backfield for Notre Dame any time he wanted.The exchange between Bentsen and Quayle was two guys I liked. It was great political theater — like Dukakis and the helmet in the tank and JFK v Nixon on television.The country needs to consolidate every program it has and prioritize them while trying to convert unemployment (which is an insurance program) to workfare whereby the funding is used to create skills that are employable.The big issue is and has always been JOBS. We are not creating enough jobs to help people lift themselves out of poverty.How long has it been since someone has said: “Jobs is job no. 1.”???Everything to do with our economy and poverty revolves around getting people to work, getting out of the way of job creators, and not penalizing success.Who is better positioned to create a job? A guy with money? Or, someone else?Much of what is wrong is simple ignorance. We have the least supportive Federal gov’t in my lifetime as it relates to jobs and job creation.The obvious first step is to fully fund the SBA which is a loan guaranty program not an entitlement program.No more for today.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I want to take you seriously, but then you say this: “A guy, named Clinton, with a six pack, an El Camino and a hard on…”Clinton graduated from Georgetown University and in 1968 won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He received a law degree from Yale University in 1973. All without a dot of privilege to scoot him along.My money would be on Clinton in an intellectual contest of any kind against Dan Quayle (as smart as Quayle may be, according to you) or Perot.He is a deeply flawed dude and gave us the nightmare that was George W. Bush for eight devastating years. But he certainly deserves a more accurate description than a ‘guy with a hard on.’

          3. JLM

            .The tragedy that is Bill Clinton is made all the more sad by the fact that he IS, in fact, a man with a brain.He is also a man without any morals who is incapable of keeping faithful to his wife and who was a serial adulterer and an incredible liar.The fact that he, the most powerful man in the world, preyed upon an unpaid intern — arguably the least powerful young woman in the White House — is a tour de force in predatory behavior.No woman, who is sincere about issues pertaining to women, can possibly support a man whose behavior was so abusive and predatory toward women both powerful (Hillary) and impotent (Monica).It is difficult to take a woman serious when they are wholesale enablers and cover for his reprehensible behavior.Bill Clinton, who had served 8 years, had nothing to do with the election of George W Bush.Bill Clinton would have been a trivia question except for Ross Perot who enabled his election through his own vanity candidacy.Bill Clinton was a guy with a brain, a six pack, an El Camino and a hard on. The only thing he used in office was, apparently, the hard on.His financial corruption, since leaving office, validates everything suggested about his lack of character.He is a perjurer to boot.Other than that, I like the guy.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            “No woman, who is sincere about issues pertaining to women, can possibly support a man whose behavior was so abusive and predatory toward women both powerful (Hillary) and impotent (Monica).”

          5. JLM

            .Love it. Well played.The wolves you feed are the wolves who survive.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          6. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I’ll never be able to dock you points for bad sportsmanship ;-)That wolves saying is the theme of Tomorrowland! I hadn’t heard it until I saw the movie.

          7. JLM

            .We’re all in the same ocean, swimming in different directions, using different strokes, bumping into each other — but it’s the same ocean.That’s an old Indian saying. I heard it from a young Indian.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. Chimpwithcans

            Hi JLM, Please would you explain what you mean when you say unemployment is an insurance program….trying to keep up.

          9. JLM

            .Unemployment is an insurance program that workers pay into. The benefits are a claim against that insurance policy. That is the literal truth of the matter.Workers are entitled to coverage but on the other hand, the system should be balanced — just like a real insurance company going broke if claims exceed income plus reserves.This is important because in recent times we have arbitrarily increased the level of coverage — by increasing the weeks of eligibility.The terms of the “policy” require that the beneficiary seek work.The way I would prefer to view it is that the insurance company (US and State gov’t) provide job skill training. There are a number of such programs — just like an insurance company will come inspect your house and urge you to remove overhanging limbs and other property dangers.If we approached this as a training opportunity, we could redirect the efforts of able bodied unemployed persons — particularly those from dying industries — to jobs that will be sustainable.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          10. DJL

            Hmmm. “I am not a revisionist but view history for actually what occurred and not change it to suit my current views.” So do you actually go back in time in live these events in person, or do you read someones interpretation of these events? I think if the answer is the latter, you might be fooling yourself to think that you have the correct version of history.”Example there where no WMD in Iraq but people who supported the justification to authorize that war continue to justify it by any means necessary” Forgive me, but this doesn’t sound like a non-partisan statement. Were you in the briefing room when the President and staff were being given the intelligence? Were you on the floor of Congress when it was debated and the Democrats were voting for the war? And did you look into the eyes of the hundreds of little girls who were brought into one of Sadam’s rape parties? What did you think when you saw the Christian fathers watching their babies buried alive by ISIS when the US left?You are blessed with a special gift, to have such a clear understanding of these complex issues.

    4. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Hey @JLM I guess you heard that last year “gullible” was removed from the Oxford English dictionary – something about it being only relevant in Texas if I remember

  10. JLM

    .I owned a few cell phone towers. The cell phone companies have gotten to the point where they cooperate fully and share space — lease space to each other — on their towers.This “kicks as hard as it shoots” because they do each other favors all along the way.If ATT rents a tower and pays $X/month, they try to collect 5X on their subrentals.I found myself in such a situation in which a big cell phone company did just that. Unfortunately, they did not have the right to sublet any space on the tower without giving me the money.It was a very interesting negotiation and I got a big dose of big telecom bullying until I threatened to cut off the power to the tower. I am very good at acting irrational.In a few days, big law firm was trying to get an injunction and the Judge in ATX seemed to favor the locals — who would have ever thunk that?Got it worked out to my satisfaction.I tell you this, because the issue with cell phone and Internet access is not the tower system.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  11. Robert Heiblim

    Great post Fred. I agree that there is a capitalistic solution for this. I also agree that in the end, getting everyone service can also be good capitalism. Considering the rest of the world, your wireless proposal simply aligns what is happening on the ground. Let’s see what can be done. Thanks

  12. JLM

    .I heard something interesting the other day that I had never encountered.A house and two neighboring houses signed on for 1Gig service. The first house has the connection and the neighboring houses have repeaters which broaden the coverage. This makes 1Gig service dirt cheap.When I scan for service at the desk at which I am currently sitting, I pick up about ten different networks from neighbors. All secured, mind you.This is similar to my neighbors who have driven water wells for irrigation — avoids high cost city water and watering restrictions during drought — and have piped it to neighbors on either side.Costs about $15-40K to drill a water well.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  13. Richard

    On a unrelated note, I observed a 3 years old?? meeting someone for the first time and ask “is that an apple watch?” “Can I see Mickey Mouse?”wow!

  14. David Knieriem

    Regulators are always trying to solve last decade’s problems. Subsidies just distort the economy. The working poor don’t want or need a wired broadband solution. Their phone is their PC.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      You are conflating regulation with subsidies ! Subsidies comprise a small subset of possible regulatory mechanisms.AlsoRegulators are always trying to solve last decade’s problemsAll regulatory systems, be they social/commercial or biological, are forced to operate in a rear-view-mirror construction mode as no system can apriori solve problems that have not yet been encountered. So that rear-view-mirror reality-problem alone has no bearing on the validity of regulatory improvement efforts.It is rather a straw-man augment that conflates the difficulties of predictive regulatory planing with a failure to appreciate the necessity of timely regulatory-mechanism-updates via timely regulatory-metrics.That timely-metrics problem that once limited the feasibility of ongoing automated regulatory-mechanism-updates is now amenable to distributive network-driven regulatory-mechanism feedback solutions.We simple await the emergence of some automated digital-social-nervous-system solutions that can support dynamic regulatory-mechanism-updating via distributive social-feedback metrics. These will be pivotal/reusable components required to modernize our governance processes around the unstoppable network-effect.

      1. alg0rhythm

        I have a model for a system I believe functions in the social feedback sector and could potentially be transformative; not horribly complex actually; using functions that already exist, but without the specific design, or intervals to make it truly useful. I am slowly working on it.

  15. pointsnfigures

    Government regulation needs to be written to encourage intense capitalistic competition. More often than not, government regulations and processes are written to pick winners and losers and entrench oligarchy. Agree that wireless is probably the way, and the US needs a lot better wireless infrastructure.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      “regulation needs to be written to encourage intense capitalistic competition”Why? They already have that in the form of lobbyists and campaign contributions 🙂

      1. pointsnfigures

        HA. Personally, I think that anyone that leaves any govt job and works for a lobbying company ought to have their earnings taxed at 50% or greater, no write offs.

  16. Neima

    I agree with the general argument, but must point out one thing. Providing access to public buildings especially schools, where providers can place cell towers is very problematic. Wireless is great and these days, important. But there has been enough research done showing that proximity to tower emmiting strong network signals is potentially harmful. I think that this is something that we don’t give enough thought to.

    1. LE

      I wonder what the teachers unions would think about that. Students are transient and only exposed for a few years. Teachers could be exposed for many years. A much more significant problem.About 20 years ago a building that I had a condo in leased the roof to a cell company. The cell company not only paid monthly rent but also had to take care of any and all roof repair expenses. It was a great deal, found money.The building is 10 stories. At the time I remember thinking 2 things:a) I am on the 9th floor so I am somewhat shielded.b) I am here only 8 weekends per year, if that.I would be way more concerned if I was on the 10th floor and I lived there full time.Last year we sold 2/3rds of the rights to the tower for about a million dollars. When I found that out I initially thought it was a joke.

    2. JLM

      .There is no doubt in my mind that electro-magnetic fields are bad for humans.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. fredwilson

      can you point me to that research?i have never seen any that was conclusive on this issue

      1. Neima

        I agree that the research is not 100% conclusive, but there is enough to show that the exposure can be potentially harmful, especially for children. Here is a link to an article that appeared in the Telegraph recently:…It includes links to additional information as well. The article concludes with the following, which I find worrisome:”In February the French government banned Wi-Fi in nursery schools and restricted use in primary schools. The German government has recommended that the use of Wi-Fi in the workplace or home should be avoided where possible. LA has reduced student exposure to Wi-Fi radiation to 10,000 times below US government standard.In 2000, a report commissioned by the Government concluded that no school should fall within 100 metres of a mobile phone mast; in 2007 a BBC Panorama programme found that the readings next to a classroom laptop showed radiation at double the level only 100 metres from a mobile phone mast.A five-year-old absorbs up to 60 per cent more radiation than an adult due largely to their thinner skulls and the high water content of a young body. In Western countries brain tumours have overtaken leukaemia as the most common cause of cancer in children.A 2008 study found a fivefold increase in the risk of glioma (a form of brain cancer now recognised by the World Health Organisation as being linked to mobile phone usage) for those starting mobile phone use under 20 years of age, indicating that the age group at first use is highly significant.

        1. fredwilson


  17. LE

    Currently we auction off spectrum to the highest bidder, raising tens of billions for the US TreasuryAnd “tens of billions” in the US Treasury is bullshit compared to what is given up. We are not talking about a State selling the NJ Turnpike to a private company to operate in the case of a spectrum sale.

  18. Stephan Froede

    Great idea.Makes a lot of sense, especially if the majority realises that self-driving cars are not able to self-drive without Internet.May be the self-driving cars and autonomous drones (which are only autonomous with Internet) will bring some demand into the game…

  19. rick gregory

    Wait… isn’t anyone going to question the definition of broadband? While in general faster is better I think it’s disingenuous to call 10 or 15m connections not broadband. They’re FAR closer to 25m than to 56k. More to the point, I’m not sure there’s a lot of practical difference between 10 or 15m and 25m, especially for basic access.The reason I ask is this – we hear than 30% of people ‘don’t have broadband’ and, I suspect, mostly think “wow, those people don’t have internet access or use dialup??” We don’t, though think “Wow, those poor people only have 15meg/sec???”

  20. Con

    Hello, interesting article. I’ve read and heard American Internet service is absurdly poor and slow for the cost involved. In Japan I pay the equivalent of 50$ for a broadband Internet connection that includes cable TV (an upgraded package which has the shows I want to watch), land line phone number and mobile phone package of unlimited use. And it is easy to switch providers: one phone call or an email. Korea has amazing free Wifi service.With the resources the US companies have there is no apparent reason for the quality of service provided. Thanks for making this problem more noticeable.

  21. DJL

    Broadband is not a universal right of being an American citizen. Once you decide that an every-growing population of poor people need access to everything that someone with more money can afford – you start down the slide we are in today. Where does it stop? If they need broadband, they certainly deserve free cloud backup, free anti-virus and free training to learn the use the broadband. Certainly a car is a necessity today? (Or a least a subsidy for Uber so you can get to work.)I agree with Fred – leave the government out. But if you really believe, start a kickstarter campaign and all of the millions of rich folks who believe in helping these poor people with cell phones, broadband, healhcare, flat-screen TVs and the other necessities can just donate. In this blog alone we would have 25% covered no problem!

    1. fredwilson

      i think it is the water of our age

      1. DJL

        Actually, I think water is still the water of our age. Isreal has already demonstrated that large-scale desalination at competitive prices is possible. Yet millions still die from lack of clean water. (But I digress – again. ;>)

  22. Steve Tsuruda

    you may consider Redstone www, is a new communications standard.Enable your solutions and products to deliver connectivity anywherewe actually remove the road blocks of bandwidth and distance

  23. jaredran

    What if we skipped the broadband expansion and moved into high speed mobile networks and increasing smartphone penetration? If you want to use a laptop, you can tether it to your phone to access the internet. Or we can have laptops with SIM cards.