Over the years, I have had to force myself to read stories about broadband deployment, net neutrality, and the FCC. Highly regulated things drive me crazy in the first place, add in the lobbyists and long timelines to deployment, and I can always find something else to think about.
All of that changed on February 10, 2010 when Google announced their experimental fiber network. This is a very creative way to get the debate unstuck from the mud in DC. The FCC could be entering a new era of independence from the telcos: they are actually installing 20,000 measurement devices in homes to see if the telcos are telling the truth about bandwidth delivered. We already know the answer to that question.
Add to this Starbucks announcement this month of free WiFi -- their coverage map is quite impressive. It is hard to know how fast these connections are going to be, and if it is going to be a winning business model for Starbucks, but the US is clearly waking up to the bandwidth debate.
The entrenched parties (telcos, gov, ...) have been slowing down and slowing each other down for so long that when these new parties zoom past the contrast in approaches will be quite dramatic.
The next thing to watch could be LTE. This new wireless standard could deliver sufficient bandwidth for streaming HD TV. This technology could be the enabler for a leap frog of the old infrastructure. Let's hope it happens here in the US and not just everywhere else.