American broadband exceptionalism

News & Politics

In fact, I'm sitting in an internet cafe myself since I'm having a hell of a time finding broadband access in this sparely populated Brooklyn neighborhood.

The one option I can find (and I'm by no means an exception in the U.S. today) is $44.95/month and is, by many accounts, a middling service. Considering the fact that "Japanese consumers can get an Internet connection that's 16 times faster than the typical American DSL line for a mere $22 per month," this is far from the cutting edge, free-market utopia of popular mythology.

In a quietly radical article, S. Derek Turner exposes both the sorry state of American broadband and the Bush administration's bogus plan to bring us into the company of France, South Korea, Canada, Hong Kong and others.

And why have we slipped from 4th to 16th in broadband use per capita? According to Turner, "The answer is simple. These nations all have something the U.S. lacks: a national broadband policy, one that actively encourages competition among providers, leading to lower consumer prices and better service."

Not only that, he says, but Bush FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's plan to reverse the trend and put us on an even playing field with the rest of the world is a sham -- a numbers game. His standards for "high-speed" pale in comparison to the rest of the world's while criteria for 'coverage' of an area is disingenuous at best:

"Instead of counting the number of subscribers in a particular area, the FCC considers an entire ZIP code as 'covered' if at least one person living in that area has a broadband connection. This allows the FCC to make misleading boasts about how broadband coverage reaches 99 percent of the country."
As Turner advocates, a combination of a truly free market in broadband (mega-corporations with undue influence on policy ensure de facto monopolies...) and municipalities turning broadband into a utility is the answer. Read the whole article [HERE] (ad-viewing required), and get involved [HERE].

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