LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Is there any sense in thinking about broadband only in terms of a wired last mile?

In the course of a peer review, I wrote the following:

Most people will connect to the Internet wirelessly. Some will be wireless for a few meters (WiFi), others for a few kilometers. All will use fiber for some parts of the connection, some in the form of FTTP, others in the form of backhaul capacity. In many cases, fixed 4G (wireless) is a direct substitute for wired connections. Our research shows that most people in lower-middle-income countries connect to the Internet using smartphones and tablets over mobile networks. Pew research shows significant, and increasing, numbers of users in the US accessing the Internet in the same manner, indicating that this is not solely about poverty but about how people find it convenient to use the Internet.

The fixed/mobile distinction is breaking down, putting enormous stress on the ITU definitions and thereby also on the data produced by the national “administrations,” compiled by the ITU and then used and disseminated by everyone else, including the World Bank.

Appears that this “Asian” debate is being played out in the US as well, according to Motherboard:

Now, in a move that would seriously oversell the number of Americans who have real access to high-speed internet, the Federal Communications Commission is considering including that last option—using your phone’s data plan to access the internet—in its definition of “broadband access.” In other words, if this change is made, using your phone would be considered just as good as having high-speed fiber to your door.

This, in the face of evidence that more and more people are smartphone only.

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