Verizon CEO: US is tops in broadband [Telecom]

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg sat down for an on-the-record conversation yesterday at the Council for Foreign Relations, and he pulled no punches: the US is number one in the world when it comes to broadband. We're so far ahead of everyone else, it's "not even close."

Given that a central piece of the National Broadband Plan was concerned with America's poor showing on broadband metrics, this was an intriguing claim to make. In essence, Seidenberg hauled out one of the NBP's main reasons for existence and just kicked it in the groin. Perhaps we don't even need a national plan?

Seidenberg: Anytime government -- whether it's the FCC or any agency -- decides it knows what the market wants and makes that a static requirement, you always lose. So this FCC decided that speed of the network was the most important issue. So that's all they measured.

So they will say, if you go to Korea or you go to France, you can get a faster Internet connection. Okay? That could be true in some companies -- in some countries. The facts are that, in the US, there is greater household penetration of access to the Internet than any country in Europe.

In Japan, where everybody looks at Japan as being so far ahead, they may have faster speeds, but we have higher utilization of people using the Internet. So our view is, whenever you look at these issues, you have to be very careful to look at what the market wants, not what government says is the most important issue.

Let's take wireless, for example. Everybody says the European system was kind of better. Well, that's very interesting. If you look at minutes of use, the average American uses their cell phone four times as much -- four times as much -- as the average European. If you look at Europe, they publish penetration rates of 150 (percent), 160 (percent), 170 percent meaning that people have more than one phone, two phones, three phones.

You know why? Roaming rates are so high. My guess is you probably have two or three different phones to carry to use in different countries because your roaming rates are so high. And you say, yes.

So my point is it's a fallacy to allow a regulatory authority to sit there and decide what's right for the marketplace when it's not even close.

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The transcript of his talk at the CFR meeting is at the following URL along with a link to audio and video versions of it:

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Thad Floryan
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