The many paradoxes of broadband

Found a really thought provocating paper on broadband today by Andrew Odlyzko.

It is one of the most comprehensive studies made on broadband (albeit US-centric).

“The many paradoxes of broadband” (50 pages) by Andrew Odlyzho.Executive Summary:

In the paper, Andrew discussed
– why broadband adoption is not the magic elixir for high tech sector
– why government should not give incentives for broadband adoption
– why lowering the cost of broadband is not feasible (with reference to 1840 UK Penny Post which is a adoption success but financial disaster)
– why FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) is not going to work

He also noted that
– by FCC definition of broadband, the postal service is a much better “broadband” provider
– Content is not king
– historically, the telecom industry has done a lousy job of providing what users wanted (e.g. Minitel, ISDN, ATM, WAP, 3G) and successful services (e.g. Internet, WWW, Napster) came from the “outside” or they stumbled into it.
– the problem with “built it and they will come” attitude because (1) it may not come (Iridium), (2) don’t do as much (Minitel) (3) may be too early.

He concluded that although broadband is a great technology, the case for public investments in broadband is questionable and not likely to lead to economic growth. And if governments really want to do something, he also offers some other recommendations.

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