Commentary

Where's my broadband?!!?

  • by , March 2, 2009

I’m probably being to melodramatic – 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 aside… really, where are my broadband options?

I don’t know how many news stories I’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 aren’t awful. I have Comcast high-speed Internet. It’s reasonably fast, and I assume it’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 don’t think there are any other high-speed ISPs in Muncie.

So that’s what I’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 “high-speed” satellite Internet. Besides the fact that it wasn’t really that fast, they had a daily download cap of about 200 MB.

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200 MB. Even Comcast’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 wouldn’t waste my bandwidth on useless videos (and being Rick-Roll’d was the worst). And forget about doing any sort of video chatting – you’ll reach your cap within the first 20 to 30 minutes.

So it pains me to look around and assess the local broadband scene:
• 2 competitors in the city
• monopolies in rural areas
• moderate speeds for exorbitant prices
• download caps

Then I take a look at the shape of broadband in Europe and Japan, and it’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 – former Soviet republics rank higher than the US (which, by the way, is not on the list).

I’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 who’s and how’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, I’ll be going to the Netherlands to do an immersive learning experience – so I’ll get to see first hand how great (or not so great) broadband is in other parts of the world. When I’m there, maybe I’ll write a second installment of this post.

So until then, I’ll just end with the admittedly cliché:

To be continued…

1 comment about "Where's my broadband?!!?".
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  1. Susan Kuchinskas from freelance, March 9, 2009 at 10:10 a.m.

    You're right; we now have a duopoly when it comes to broadband. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it's the same here. In fact, AT&T (the company some people may remember was broken up a long time ago because it monopolized phone services) is using broadband to take the little share that's left away from long distance companies like Credo.

    You can't get AT&T DSL without AT&T local phone services. They price those services super-high unless you buy a long-distance package. Time for the Feds to look at this?

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