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Powell lauds cable industry’s broadband contribution

The cable television industry is largely responsible for the rapid, widespread growth of broadband Internet service in America and is working hard to make it even faster and more widely available, Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association told attendees during opening remarks June 10 at The Cable Show in Washington, D.C.

Since the mid ‘90s, the cable industry has invested more than $200 billion infrastructure to deliver broadband service across the country, laying the groundwork for the industry to serve the more than 50 million people it does today with broadband service, he said.

“We have worked hard to reach nearly everyone, and now offer service to 93 percent of American homes,” said Powell.

Addressing critics who argue that U.S. broadband speeds are inferior to some foreign nations, Powell said such criticisms are based on “false comparisons.”

“There are some nations doing very well, but it is foolish to compare countries like France and Latvia to the United States of America,” said Powel. The U.S. landmass equals 3.8 million square miles, much of it rural, he said. “If you compare individual U.S. states to hundreds of foreign countries, 10 of the top fastest regions in the world are here in America.”

The cable industry has increased broadband speeds more than 1500 percent in the past 10 years. “Today, cable networks capable of delivering speeds of 100 megs or more are available to 85 percent of all households — an achievement envied around the world,” he said.

However, Powell, a former chairman of the FCC, told his audience that one serious communications challenge remains in America: closing the broadband adoption gap. “We still have one-quarter of Americans who have access to broadband, but have not yet gotten online,” he said.

Powell said the cable industry has launched programs to promote broadband adoption, including offering low-priced broadband service to low-income Americans.

Broadband plays a vital role in education, enabling job opportunities, better health care and closer-knit communities, he said. Powell pointed to a program in central Oregon being done by Bend Broadband as an example of industry efforts to “close the digital divide.”

Powell said the industry will continue to invest and innovate to meet the demand for Internet capacity. “This is the American way. We will not rest for one reason above all: We want America to soar in the Information Age.”