updated 03:22 pm EDT, Thu June 6, 2013
Executive believes United States is 'a world leader' in broadband
The average American consumer does not need gigabit Internet access at this moment in time, according to the Vice President of Comcast. David Cohen claims the issue of gigabit speeds to end users is "really more about demand than supply," suggesting that high-speed Internet services such as Google Fiber are not required.
The editorial by Cohen in the Philadelphia Inquirer claims that it already provides its customers with such connections, though the "10-gig connections" are only available to business customers at the moment, and offering such speed to consumers would be relatively futile in the first place. "Most websites can't deliver content as fast as current networks move, and most US homes have routers that can't support the speed already available to the home," wrote Cohen, continuing "As consumer demand grows for faster speeds, a competitive marketplace of wired and wireless broadband providers will be ready to serve it."
Elsewhere in the article, Cohen compares the state of Internet access in the US with those of the rest of the world. He claims that 82-percent of US homes have access to "speeds in excess of 100mbps," compared to Europeans achieving that for only two percent of the continent's population. Residential broadband speeds are said to have increased "19-fold in the last six years," according to Cohen, and that 94 percent of Americans can access wired high-speed Internet. "By nearly every measure, we are a world leader."
While Cohen gives a relatively compelling argument that the state of Internet access in the United States is good enough, he does overlook a number of aspects. In the case of Google Fiber, Google provides customers with a router built to handle gigabit networking, both the incoming connection and the local network itself. It also attempts to provide services that can actively use up such a connection, such as recording up to eight TV shows in HD at the same time, or providing access to one terabyte of cloud storage. He also overlooks the constantly growing appetite for the consumption of high-bandwidth media, such as through the use of streaming video services, companies that couldn't flourish on the slower connections used before.
Even though Comcast is not seemingly troubled by the apparent "lack of demand" for gigabit connections, it has not stopped others from working on the problem. AT&T announced it was planning to launch its own gigabit connections in Austin, shortly after Google named it as a new market for Google Fiber. Vermont Telephone also launched its own fiber service in the Vermont area, offering a service at half what Google currently charges, courtesy of $94 million in stimulus funds.