IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m probably being to melodramatic Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I guess I should be asking where are my broadband options (I just thought a good exclamatory title would grab your attention). Putting all syntactical errors asideÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ really, where are my broadband options?
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how many news stories IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve read over the last five to eight years all proclaiming how the US lags behind most of the industrialized nation in broadband (and Wi-Fi) penetration, broadband speeds, and competitive prices.
Living here in Muncie, things arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t awful. I have Comcast high-speed Internet. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reasonably fast, and I assume itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s competitively priced. I have the option to get AT&T, but quite honestly, Comcast contacted me first, so I went with them. Other than that, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think there are any other high-speed ISPs in Muncie.
So thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got: two options.
If I leave Muncie, it gets even worse. I used to live on a farm out in the middle of nowhere, and it cost nearly $1000 to get set up with Ã¢â‚¬Å“high-speedÃ¢â‚¬Â satellite Internet. Besides the fact that it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really that fast, they had a daily download cap of about 200 MB.
200 MB. Even ComcastÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s download cap is 250 GB/month.
Do you have any idea how hard it was to visit sites like YouTube or Google Video? I had to choose every video carefully so I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t waste my bandwidth on useless videos (and being Rick-RollÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d was the worst). And forget about doing any sort of video chatting Ã¢â‚¬â€œ youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll reach your cap within the first 20 to 30 minutes.
So it pains me to look around and assess the local broadband scene:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 2 competitors in the city
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ monopolies in rural areas
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ moderate speeds for exorbitant prices
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ download caps
Then I take a look at the shape of broadband in Europe and Japan, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about enough to make me cry. In September of last year, it was announced that Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands have the best broadband in the world. The story also contains a top 10 list for broadband Ã¢â‚¬â€œ former Soviet republics rank higher than the US (which, by the way, is not on the list).
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m glad to see that the economic stimulus bill that was recently passed by Congress and signed into law by Obama has about $7 billion devoted to broadband development. And now that it has passed, the challenge is figuring out the whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and howÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s of building a nationwide broadband network. But while the FCC and telcos deliberate, the Netherlands is moving forward with more fiber optic connections.
This summer, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be going to the Netherlands to do an immersive learning experience Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get to see first hand how great (or not so great) broadband is in other parts of the world. When IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m there, maybe IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll write a second installment of this post.
So until then, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll just end with the admittedly clichÃƒÂ©:
To be continuedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦