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The United States, in all its glory, is seriously starting to lag behind other countries in the quality and quantity of internet service being provided. As the leaders of the free world, one would assume this would be a bread and butter thing for us to champion, considering we created the internet in the first place. Why then, when faced with the facts and numbers, are we so terribly behind? One might argue it’s mostly a financial situation. For us to be able to “upgrade” our internet capabilities, it is going to require large scale improvements and renovations to a backbone that is decades old and in serious need of some lovin’. If we don’t do this, and do this soon, we are going to quickly find ourselves trailing far, far behind.

When looking at any sort of data, it is honestly just scary. Japan leads the world with fastest internet available. They have the fastest and lowest unit costs for broadband, according to recent data from the OECD. In the land of the rising sun, you can enjoy costs per megabit per second over four times lower than that of the US. This kind of information is just downright troubling to me, considering I work in an internet related business and probably wouldn’t be able to function as a civilized human being without access to the internet. What is worse yet is that this data could possible make people theorize, “Well, maybe Japan just really has their internet situation on lockdown.” Unfortunately, this is not the case. The US ranks a pathetic 15th place in this department, with countries like France, Korea, and Sweden nestled in second, third and fourth place (respectively).

To take matters to an even more frightening place, all one would need to do is compare the above data to the fact that we have the largest amount of total broadband subscribers. As of June 2007 the US led all countries surveyed in terms of broadband subscribers with over 66.2 million. The second closest amount of subscribers was in Japan with about 27.2 million. You are trying to tell me that the people who have the fastest and cheapest internet also have less than half the amount of subscribers than we do? While I know that the US is a lot larger a country and that an obvious disparity will be present, the gap just seems far too staggering. My God in heaven, there is something just wrong with this picture.

I’m not quite sure what it is going to take to get the changes we need, but I do know that we are in desperate need of them. If our country wants to remain on top of things, we are going to have to either independently find ways to beef up the internet capabilities we have, or someone is going to need to foot the bill so we can start getting the ball rolling. We are in the middle of the internet age and the time is nigh to start acting like it.


8 thoughts on “Give Me Bandwidth or Give Me Death
  1. very interesting thoughts! i certainly love the ted cohen flare to the blog…

  2. Mike Wilde says:

    Although I disagree on the “bandwidth or death” idea, I do find these numbers downright scary. I guess the biggest question in my mind is who/what will be the catalyst of this change? In other words, will our capitalist drive eventually lead Corporate America to develop the necessary technological infrastructure to compete with other countries along the information superhighway? Or will the government eventually be responsible for the infrastructure of our online world much the same as it is currently responsible for our country’s physical infrastructure?

  3. Edwin Rosero says:

    I think its important to note that although the U.S falls short on bandwidth and broadband internet subscribers. The world Economic Forum ranked the U.S as #4 in overall network readiness. This metric factored in a particular countries markets, its political and regulatory environment, its infrastructure, time required to start a business, the intensity of local competition, and the actual use of technology at the individual, business, and government levels. So, while we may be coming in at a dismal place in bandwidth we are in a better place to take advantage of world wide IT growth.

  4. KRONiS says:

    I’m finding that a big part of this ‘Internet access sucks lately’ is the cut-throat nature of the large aging phone companies and their lack of commitment to customer service based on the cost of supporting their old money-making-based systems -i.e. I can’t call Canada in Canada on AT&T for less than $0.59 / minute even though the ‘International Roaming plan is activated, which simiply costs $5/month and lowers the fee from $0.79/minute. Plus you pay the fees from the Rogers communications towers – the same idiots who renamed the Skydome where the Blue Jays play to the ‘Rogers Centre'(sic).

    I tried to order the Fibre Optic service from Verizon downtown LA (you think downtown Los Angeles of all places would be easy to find hi-speed Internet service at blazing speeds!) – and I was first told by Verizon – “We can’t even offer you phone service in your building”.

    – Not that I wanted phone service, which would be ‘required’ if I were eligible in my location.

    All I wanted was hi-speed Internet, preferably something to bundle with my iPhone, however AT&T could only offer 56K! I was on the phone with AT&T’s representative who also informed me that they couldn’t bundle wireless services with broadband. I retorted, ‘But 56K isn’t even hi-speed – it is dialup, and $22/month – forget you!’ – after being placed on hold after every question I just hung up.

    I’ve spoken with some other folks trying to find the best hi-speed solution only to find that apparently the problem is with the way the phone companies were split up in the past to prevent the monopolization, however all this did was give ‘territories’ to companies who then rip you off wherever they offer services when others can’t. I tried to get Time Warner Cable (who are okay speed-wise, but terrible for anything technical or security related) and they didn’t have a right of entry to my building either, I had to call the property manager. Needless to say, I’m going with cypressnet.com for now who apparently offer some type of T1 line directly into a drop at my apartment. We’ll see what the upload speeds are for $55/ month once they ‘flip the switch’….

  5. Gina says:

    Give me death! No really, very interesting, and it makes me question the internet I just had to install darn it!

  6. Mike Block says:

    Great blog and look at all those Diggs! One thing to remember, though, is that the US is a physically huge country, especially when compared to the countries that outrank it as far as broadband speed. You’ll note that we still outrank comparably sized countries like Canada, China, India and Russia. It’s a daunting task to establish a countrywide broadband infrastructure to rival Japan’s in a country that is 26 times bigger.

    Although these issues are generally Federal projects, I wonder if metropolitan areas would be able to move faster if given the go ahead to do so. After all getting Los Angeles up to speed would be roughly the same task physically as doing so in urban South Korea, whereas getting all of California up to speed would be a bigger undertaking than all of Germany.

    We often forget about physical obstacles and limitations, but in a country as big as the US, it will always be something to consider.

  7. Verizon’s FiOS clearly shows that we can provide bandwidth in much greater capacity than is currently possible over traditional cable/dsl lines. Fiber optic is the way. Unfortunately, FiOS is available on a very limited basis, offering service in Manhattan Beach, but not in El Segundo and other surrounding areas. I cannot say what it will take to cause the push for increased bandwidth, but I hope it comes sooner rather than later.

    Check out Verizon FiOS Internet:


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