Slouching Toward Broadband: Revisited in 2005

By Robert Burgelman, Philip Meza, Les Vadasz
2005 | Case No. SM137
At a time when many things Americans consumed were “supersized,” Internet access in the United States was decidedly sparing. Instead of using always-on broadband to gulp down Internet access, most Americans sipped the Web through slow dial-up connections. More advanced Internet applications, such as Web phone calls, video-on-demand, or Web broadcasts of music or television were haltingly slow or completely impractical at non-broadband speeds. The full benefits of the Internet as a delivery channel for much consumer-targeted advanced e-commerce or entertainment applications would have to wait until broadband became ubiquitous. In contrast to the United States, many other countries were making broadband penetration a national priority, and their citizens were fast becoming more wired than those in the United States. What, if anything, could ILECs or cable companies do to help shape their futures and speed the consumer adoption of broadband? Was that really in their interests? Ubiquitous broadband was certainly in the interests of companies such as Intel, Microsoft, EarthLink and countless others. What could they do to catalyze the arrival of consumer broadband? What, if anything, should the United States government do to make its citizens more wired? What were the forces involved in broadband in the United States and how did they influence its deployment? In turn, could companies and industries influence those forces to their own advantage?
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