Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Broadband or Slowband?

Here's a ringing endorsement of the American broadband system. Not.

A file that takes four minutes to download in South Korea would take nearly an hour and a half to download in the U.S. using the average bandwidth. Japanese users leaves U.S. users behind with an eye-popping 63.60 Mb/s download link. This means that Japanese can download an entire movie in just two minutes, as opposed to two hours or more here in the U.S. Just in case you are wondering: No, Japanese users do not pay more for their broadband connections. In fact, U.S. broadband cost is among the highest in the world.

Japan dominates international broadband speed with a median download speed of approximately 6 MB/s, more than enough to stream DVD-quality video with surround audio in real time.

Of course, there's more to this than viewing dvd-quality videos, with surround sound, in real time (as much as that appeals to me).

"This isn’t about how fast someone can download a full-length movie," said CWA president Larry Cohen. "Speed matters to our economy and our ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace. Rural development, telemedicine, and distance learning all rely on truly high-speed, universal networks."
Note to readers: it's our federal policy, mainly designed by corporate interests for the past decade or more, that's lead us to where we are today. They're designed to make us pay as much as humanly possible, with as little competition as possible, all while allowing corporations to stall on improving the networks for as barely competitive, highly profitable corporations see fit (note that dozens of towns in Massachusetts, mostly in Western Mass, are still reduced to using dial up).

There are other, better ways. For example, France opened up free access to some of their government channels - sort of like we do with our GPS satellites - allowing what were then small startup companies to create internet/cable/phone packages that were faster than what we have now. They were sold to the public at the equivalent of around $30/month - for the entire bundle - and so many of these companies became successful that it was a true economic boom for France, not to mention a serious benefit to the French people.

In America, we can't even get one of those three for $30 a month, never mind the whole kit and caboodle, and the playing field has been mainly leveled to a battle between Verizon and Comcast that's leaving the people of this country as the casualties of their profit-driven, service-lax war. Imagine what average citizens would do with another $70 a month in their pocket? That's the kind of extra discretionary spending that would put untold numbers of people in this country back to work.

One final quote:
We have been writing for quite a while about the problem of stagnating download speeds of U.S. broadband services and the potential problems that are developing out of this scenario. While providers such as Time Warner Cable, AT&T or Comcast are trying to squeeze more customers in their antiquated networks and are more focused on topics such as speed throttling rather than improving their infrastructure, other nations are slowly but surely running away with greater bandwidths that are likely to enable new services and new business opportunities.


Anonymous said...

Not only does the speed stink, but try to get service if you have a problem. You're on terminal hold. They overcharge, don't deliver the service and you have no recourse. An internet search for any of those companies lists endless blogs and complaints. And even Beacon Hill is asleep at the wheel to get something done. When will a Class Action Lawsuit be filed?

Ryan Adams said...

as bad as they are, are there legal grounds for one? I think we'd need to change the law and a more effective way of doing it, rather than making it ilegal to provide better service, is create ways to a) make it cheaper and b) make it more competitive.

Universal, free wi-fi, as was proposed for Boston and has been done elsewhere, would be a wonderful arena to go for much of this state. Cheap, real competition to the status quo and it would mean cable/dsl companies in specific cities and towns in this state would have to offer super fast, rather cheap plans in order to get people to go for speed rather than free wifi.

Ryan Adams said...

illegal to provide bad service, not better. Seriously, what's with my typos in comments lately?

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