Both Republican and Democratic parties agree: the United States should be a leader in broadband access for all. However, according to Future Tense, there may be some snags along the way for the technology that both parties deem a necessity for “economic success, social mobility, education, healthcare and public safety.” The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband coalition conducted a survey in 2015, that showed 42 percent of libraries and 41 percent of schools lack high-capacity internet.
Of utmost importance are those entities that require additional bandwidth than that of residences, including businesses, hospitals, office buildings, schools and other institutions. Future Tense noted that prices and terms for business broadband often are “unreasonable.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is looking at reforming the broadband industry, “reasoning that broadband access is increasingly essential to the rest of the economy, the commission should ensure businesses and other institutions pay a competitive market price for internet access,” Future Tense said.
One way would be with business data services (BDS), which would allow businesses that need more data to support “a host of services over the internet.” BDS, however, comes with monopolies, and according to the FCC, “75 percent of nonresidential buildings are served by a monopoly BDS provider, while more than 95 percent of locations are served by no more than two suppliers.” Smaller carriers have to pay bigger monopolies for the right to use their wirelines, and Future Tense said that “although the FCC recently allocated additional spectrum resources to facilitate the development of super-fast 5G wireless networks, the U.S. won’t maintain its lead in mobile broadband speed without an enormous increase in competitive and affordable wireline backhaul.”
The FCC can either “assume that the market for gigabit-fast fiber BDS is (or will soon be) competitive, a compromise suggested by Verizon and an association of enterprise broadband providers,” or “it can base regulatory intervention on a measure of actual competition by existing competitors,” like a price cap.
Future Tense noted that “President Obama and the FCC have made gigabit connections for all community anchor institutions by 2020 a national goal.”