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From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 09:16:11 -0500
Begin forwarded message:
From: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne () warpspeed com>
Date: November 9, 2006 7:01:18 AM EST
To: Dewayne-Net Technology List <dewayne-net () warpspeed com>
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Internet Disconnect
Reply-To: dewayne () warpspeed com
By Michael J. Copps
Wednesday, November 8, 2006; A27
America's record in expanding broadband communication is so poor that it
should be viewed as an outrage by every consumer and businessperson in
the country. Too few of us have broadband connections, and those who do
pay too much for service that is too slow. It's hurting our economy, and
things are only going to get worse if we don't do something about it.
The United States is 15th in the world in broadband penetration,
according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). When the
ITU measured a broader "digital opportunity" index (considering price
and other factors) we were 21st -- right after Estonia. Asian and
European customers get home connections of 25 to 100 megabits per second
(fast enough to stream high-definition video). Here, we pay almost twice
as much for connections that are one-twentieth the speed.
How have we fallen so far behind? Through lack of competition. As the
Congressional Research Service puts it, U.S. consumers face a "cable and
telephone broadband duopoly." And that's more like a best-case scenario:
Many households are hostage to a single broadband provider, and nearly
one-tenth have no broadband provider at all.
For businesses, it's just as bad. The telecom merger spree has left many
office buildings with a single provider -- leading to annual estimated
overcharges of $8 billion. Our broadband infrastructure should be a
reason companies want to do business in the United States, not just
another reason to go offshore.
The stakes for our economy could not be higher. Our broadband failure
places a ceiling over the productivity of far too much of the country.
Should we expect small-town businesses to enter the digital economy, and
students to enter the digital classroom, via a dial-up connection? The
Internet can bring life-changing opportunities to those who don't live
in large cities, but only if it is available and affordable.
Even in cities and suburbs, the fact that broadband is too slow, too
expensive and too poorly subscribed is a significant drag on our
economy. Some experts estimate that universal broadband adoption would
add $500 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.2 million jobs.
Future generations will ultimately pay for our missteps. Albert Einstein
reportedly quipped that compound interest is the most powerful force in
the universe. Investment in infrastructure is how a nation harnesses
this awesome multiplier. Consider that 80 percent of the growth in
fiber-to-the-home (super-high-speed) subscribers last year was not in
the United States but in Japan. One does not need Einstein's grasp of
mathematics to understand that we cannot keep pace on our current
I don't claim to have all the answers. But there are concrete steps
government must take now to reverse our slide into communications
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- Internet Disconnect David Farber (Nov 09)