Broadband Forum III takes place tomorrow with the theme: “Rural Connections: Where Should We Fit in California’s Broadband Future?” While California and our region work to plot out our telecommunications future there is news that the FCC is finally going to take a serious look at broadband deployment throughout the country. Our whole perspective needs to be changed on this issue. We need to plan and demand as much as we can on the local and state level, but the Federal government has a huge role to play in setting policy and goals.

Part of the problem is the way the FCC defines broadband which is any connection of 256 KB and above. That’s a very low standard given the kind and amount of data traveling over the network. That was broadband 8 years ago, but surely not today. And what about tomorrow? The FCC also counts a single user in a zip code having broadband as if the entire zip code also has broadband. Even with these extremely low standards as measurement the U.S. now ranks 15th in the world in broadband deployment. This is shameful.

I realize that some of the other countries that are leaping ahead, such as Japan (where one third of the homes and businesses already have fiber connections, with 50 megabit service going for as little as $27/month), do not have some the the demographic and geographic challenges as we do. But for the wealthiest country in the world, and the one that invented the Internet, these challenges are not insurmountable with real leadership.