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Bill Gillies - Editor

Online gaming more than just fun

As I discussed two weeks ago, the U.S. ranks 19th in the world when it comes to Internet download speed.  The fastest country is South Korea.  We need to do better. The Obama administration’s applaudable goal is to have broadband in every home, school and workplace.  So last month the Federal Communications Commission raised an interesting point by asking: Just what is “broadband?”

As reported on, the computer gaming industry is not pleased with the response that AT&T filed with the FCC.  It suggested that online games should be relegated to the category of being nice but not essential. “For Americans who today have no terrestrial broadband service at all,” AT&T wrote the Commission, “the pressing concern is not the ability to engage in real-time, two-way gaming, but obtaining meaningful access to the Internet’s resources and to reliable email communications and other basic tools that most of the country has come to expect as a given.”

This did not sit well with the Entertainment Software Association.  Online video games “are no less important to the future of the Internet than email and web browsing were to the past and are today,” a senior ESA representative told the Commission on Wednesday.

They’re used for employee training and in schools, he noted. “Online video games are a meaningful part of our participative culture. They remove geographic barriers, connecting people from across the country and around the world. They teach cooperation, cultivate leadership skills, and empower users to express their creativity.”

Google’s submission took the most sensible approach. “Ultimately what interests us about broadband is not what it is, but what it enables,” the search engine giant wrote to the Commission. Broadband should be defined at speeds “that enable full utilization of broadband services and applications.” The connections should be “sufficiently robust” enough to let users “receive, generate and interact with voice, data, graphics and video, which will enable users to receive the maximum value of broadband.”

Google’s dream definition of broadband? “A high-quality, ‘always on,’ packet switched, technology-neutral, high speed communications transmission platform,” the company suggests. “This platform further should allow users to harness the Internet, access and upload content, and otherwise engage in high-speed two-way connectivity and interactivity.”

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