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National Research Council, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Committee on Broadband Last Mile Technology, Broadband: Bringing Home the Bits (2002) (full-text).


This report examines the technologies, economics, policies, and strategies associated with the broadband challenge (the "first mile" or "last mile" high-speed connectivity problem, depending on one's perspective) and makes recommendations aimed at fostering broadband's deployment and use.

The Committee found that broadband should be defined in a dynamic and multidimensional fashion, and offers two complementary approaches to characterizing what constitutes broadband service: (1) local access link performance should not be the limiting factor in a user's capability for running today's applications, and (2) broadband services should provide sufficient performance — and wide enough penetration of services reaching that performance level — to encourage the development of new applications.

These definitions reflect the central "chicken-and-egg" conundrum: an application will not be made available unless a sufficient number of subscribers have broadband connections with performance high enough to support the application, yet service providers will not invest in higher-performance broadband until they know that there will be sufficient demand for the service.