Table: Boosting Broadband
Broadband is faster, cheaper, and more popular in Korea, Japan, and Canada. Here's how the U.S. can catch up:
REMOVE ROADBLOCKS Federal regulations still require the Bells to get government approval for many new services, such as DSL. Regulators should drop that rule, putting phone companies on the same footing as cable-TV operators. At the state and local level, government must make it easier for companies to obtain permits for network construction.
CREATE TAX INCENTIVES Congress should approve a bill that would give companies a tax credit worth up to 20% of their broadband investments. That would make it easier for phone companies and cable companies to deploy cable modems and DSL in the 15% of the country where it's currently too expensive to build.
REDUCE PRICES At around $45 a month, broadband is about twice as expensive in the U.S. as it is in Japan and Korea. To approach the popularity of broadband in those countries, American phone and cable companies will have to drop their prices.
BOOST SPEED For less than $25 a month, residential customers in Japan connect to the Net at an average of 10 megabits a second -- 10 times as fast as the typical broadband connection in the U.S. American operators should adopt speedier technology, which is readily available.
FUND STARTUPS Venture capitalists should get off the sidelines and start financing more broadband content startups such as Movielink, which allows consumers to view a limited number of films over their high-speed Internet connection.
PROMOTE FILE-SHARING To encourage people to use broadband, a much wider selection of music, video, and games must be available online. The music industry has made some progress in ironing out the licensing and financial issues -- even The Rolling Stones have made the jump to the Net. Now, the movie industry needs to figure out a way to distribute more of its wares over the Web.
Data: RHK Inc., company reports