I’ve said it for a long time, and it seems at least one person in the FCC is starting to speak up. Why is it that in the richest country of the world, in one of the major metropolitan areas of the country, the fastest broadband I can get today is 20 mbits/sec down and 2mbits/sec up, and it would cost me $80/month? And I’m lucky because I live in Somerville; if you look in Boston proper or Cambridge, the fastest you can get is 6 mbits/sec down, 768kbit/sec up. And that will cost you at least $50/month. Contrast that with South Korea or Japan, where the norm is 100mbits/sec for a fraction of what we pay here. Or with large parts of Europe where ADSL2 is being rolled out for under 20 Euros/month.
Broadband sucks in this country. We’re paying way too much for connections that are way too slow – particularly in the upload department. With the change of power in Congress, maybe something will finally be done about this. A good first step would be to unlock the final mile. Cable providers should be forced to open up and allow competitors to run data to their customers, much like is the case in the DSL world. And, more importantly, Verizon and SBC should be forced to open up the FIOS lines they are now rolling out so that some healthy competition can drive the prices down and the speeds up.
Secondly, municipalities need to be encouraged to roll out non-profit internet service, much like they provide electricity and water in large parts of the countries. Where laws have been passed prohibiting this – under heavy lobbying from the telcos and cable companies – these laws need to be repealed immediately, and some punishment for these companies is in order. Perhaps a new tax on their local presence for a couple of years, the proceeds of which can be used to build out the municipal networks.
Sure, the big telcos and cable companies won’t like it. But frankly, they can go to hell. They are the cause for all this stagnation – they are the reason that we are falling behind. They’ve been making billions for many years, charging us all through the nose. It’s time the government steps in and forces some more competition.