In September I did a post talking about the telecom companies blocking a proposal by Internet company M2Z to supply free broadband Internet to the entire country. In the wake of the disturbing news, we now find out that the United States is rapidly falling behind in Internet speed, availability and price:
The United States is starting to look like a slowpoke on the Internet. Examples abound of countries that have faster and cheaper broadband connections, and more of their population connected to them.
What's less clear is how badly the country that gave birth to the Internet is doing, and whether the government needs to step in and do something about it. The Bush administration has tried to foster broadband adoption with a hands-off approach. If that's seen as a failure by the next administration, the policy may change.
This graph gives a bleak view of how the United States has fallen behind in the online game.
You can't help but think about the jobs that would be created if we updated our nation's Internet infrastructure. Crews would have to be hired to run new network cables and techs would have to be hired to implement the changes. It could result in tens of thousands of jobs.
There is also the impact on education. Schools rely more on the Internet for education, and since a lot of children either don't have Internet or have limited time on it because they tie up the phone line, they can't go online to do their studies. Some of these children don't have this access due to the high prices, others because they just can't get it in their part of the country.
This is should be unacceptable for the country that pioneered the online world, but the Bush administration is doing nothing to correct it. They always give a lot of talk, but when talk needs to turn to action then they have the mentality of Ted "the tubes are full" Stevens when it comes to the Internet.
I think the saddest part is that we pay so much more and get so much less, yet the telecom companies want to charge even more beyond that. For example, I know people in the U.K. that pay less than 1/2 the price for their Internet connection and get speeds 4 times faster than I do here. We aren't just turning the Internet into molasses on the information super-highway, we are trying to price it out of existence for the small business or struggling family, and then the people who do have high-speed Internet get their service cut for using it to much. We have a serious problem here that requires government interaction and regulation.
So I decided to take time to see where the C&L readers stand in the online world, explicitly what kind of Internet they have available in their country, so I have attached a poll asking just that. I have excluded satellite Internet service, as I feel that it doesn't count in the mix of things with the current extra-high prices of it.