April 8 2008

American Broadband Is “Terrible”

Walt Mossberg, the technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, spoke to a technology conference in Finland about the future and gave what is probably the most salient breakdown of what is wrong with American broadband that I’ve heard. He talks, at first, about what consumers want from their Internet, and then at the 4:36 mark, he launches into why our Internet speeds are a global embarrassment.

When will we realize we are settling for not even “second best”, but really what is “third best”? As I’ve talked about before, instead of forging ahead, trying to bring the newest technologies to this country, we are willing to settle for DSL as a standard for “broadband” speeds.

I understand we are dealing with an amount of land mass that dwarfs countries such as Japan and Finland, but we have to get over this presumed hurdle and start to catch up with the rest of the world. Not only are we suffering from slower speeds, but insanely high prices. I am currently paying $63 a month for 8 Mbps down/ 500 Kbps up, while people in France are paying €50 ($78.50 as of today’s exchange) a month for 100 Mbps fiber optic. (Mind you that is 100 Mbps down AND up.)

The InternetI understand there are other problems in the country that are pressing such as the war in Iraq, the current/pending recession, oil prices, food prices, etc, etc, but I also understand we are not doing anything to prepare for the future of technology. We are being left in the proverbial dust as other countries surge past us in the race for Internet speed, and it is going to impact us.

Wouldn’t you like to have a speedy enough connection that you could reliably do your word processing online, saving you the expense of buying something like Microsoft Office? Wouldn’t you like to have clearer quality Skype calls, allowing you to call friends and family all over the planet for free? Cloud computing is the wave of the future that will allow us to store far less data locally, making it accessible from anywhere in the world, but if we don’t get our speeds up, we will be held back in our ability to take advantage of this. It will also hinder companies from wanting to work here if they can not get speeds and pricing comparable to what they find elsewhere, which, in turn, will impact our economy.

This issue has to be dealt with, and an election year is the perfect time to do it. I beg of you, Please make sure to contact your state Representative or Senator and express your feelings on this subject.  Let your voices be heard that this does matter not only to you, but to the future of our country.  If we continue to allow ourselves to languish miles behind the rest of the world for much longer, it is only going to get worse.

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  • M

    yeah! *starts making signs and posters to hand out*

  • Well, just make sure you make those signs on really tall sticks so people of a normal height can read them, M ;)

  • Japan had a policy called “e-Japan” which used industry incentives to assure nation-wide 30 Mbps broadband by 2005–and they achieved it about a year ahead of time. To be sure, Japan, a country 1/25th the size of the U.S., is easier to wire for broadband–but the point is, the U.S. doesn’t even have a policy–aside from letting telecoms raise their rates in exchange for promises to wire for broadband–promises which were simply ignored with no consequences to the telecoms. Now they want to do away with Network Neutrality in exchange for–again–making the nation go broadband, so long as they are not held to it in any binding way. You can guess what what will happen if the government gives in to them.

    I think that, short of the government growing a pair and forcing the telecoms to advance (which I am pretty sure they won’t do), the telecoms will not go broadband so long as they can make about the same amount of money without broadband; they will not go broadband until there’s a definite profit motive. Right now that is not nearly strong enough.