I’ve talked now and then about how poor the broadband offerings are in the US compared to overseas. Check out this brief news item on betanews covering Comcast’s rollout of 16Mbit service in select markets in the US. Markets which just happen to be locations where Verizon is rolling out their high speed FIOS service. By way of comparison, in most markets cable companies are offering at best 5Mbit and in many markets they are still only offering 2 or 3Mbit service. What’s driven Comcast to offer 16Mbit? COMPETITION. Local communities should stop offering monopolies to the cable companies because lacking competition, they’re not going to provide better services. The lack of ubiquitous symetrical high speed broadband in the US is leaving us at a competitive disadavantage compared to asia especially, a competitive disadvantage that will reveal itself over the next decade or so as they become the innovators in the network space we invented. You can see tangible evidence of this stuff already happening in places like South Korea.
This stuff really really pisses me off. Republican leadership in Washington has only been hurting things since the FCC has been bending over backwards to give the network providers what they ask for, even letting them sneak out of prexisting arrangements. (anyone remember that the FCC declared that AOL had to open its IM networks more than 5 years ago, for example?). Meanwhile I can only push things back up my pipe at 20k/sec, which is 20% of what I used to get from Time Warner back when they first rolled out broadband service in Portland, Maine in the mid 90’s. So in 10 years or so, my upstream is actually an order of magnitude lower than it used to be. Meanwhile my cable company is running tv ads promoting the use of my cable modem as a video phone to chat with my grandmother. Right. In the parallel universe where the south korean telco is providing me unfettered bandwidth and not playing at being a media congolmerate. Fuckers.
Anyway, that’s a bit of an angry ramble, but I’ll close with the observation that there is hope for us, at least on the east coast in Verizon territory where I am, since Verizon intends to push FIOS out to all customers eventually. (though at a guess it will take them forever to reach me in western MA. Good thing we’re bringing in Internet 2 to my place of work).