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The U.S. Falling Behind In Broadband? 161

Posted by Zonk
from the more-like-fallen dept.
prostoalex writes "Michael J. Copps of the FCC has published a column in the Washington Post describing the United States' Internet disconnect as far as broadband: '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.' To be fair in comparison, USA is 2nd in the world as far as number of broadband lines installed."
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The U.S. Falling Behind In Broadband?

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  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:18PM (#16788797) Homepage Journal
    Help, help ... the sky is falling! Oops, sorry ... same plot, wrong story.

    Seriously though, the author completely ignores the vast geographic differences between the US and other industrialized country when categorizing the US as falling behind in broadband acceptance. The US has an average population density of ~30 people per square km, industrialized Europe's is ~100, while Japan's is 336. The higher the population density, the less cable is needed (and hence, the lower the cost) to provide broadband to all these people.

    In addition, the US is HIGHLY suburban, with the vast majority of broadband users living in sprawling neighborhoods with relatively large amounts of land (e.g. 1/4 to 1/2 acre+). Compare this to Europe/Japan, where a larger proportion of broadband users (and the population) live in densely populated cities. As an example, I live in a typical suburban U.S. neighborhood where almost everyone has broadband. To hit every one of the 100 homes, it would take 1.3 to 2.6 miles of cable (depending on cable location). In a European city, this same amount of cable could easily cover 2-10X the # of families living in typical apartments/condos.

    Also, I don't see how large-scale adoptance of broadband in the US would help the economy by the stated $500Billion (a whopping 5% of GDP). The only people I know who don't have broadband either: don't own a computer (lack of money, interest, or live on a farm), are worried about their kids hitting the porn sites, or are grandparent types who just have no clue what the internet is and have no desire to learn. If we got all these people surfing online watching YouTube videos, searching for nudie pics, playing solitaire, and creating myspace pages, how would the economy grow by 5%?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Asphalt (529464)
      Seriously though, the author completely ignores the vast geographic differences between the US and other industrialized country when categorizing the US as falling behind in broadband acceptance. The US has an average population density of ~30 people per square km, industrialized Europe's is ~100, while Japan's is 336. The higher the population density, the less cable is needed (and hence, the lower the cost) to provide broadband to all these people.

      While this is true, it doesn't completely explain thing

    • Salvance,

      This sounds like the typical Democrat and/or Republican spin/BS.
      I know some times there are MS hired-guns on /..

      Are you a USA Telco/Cable wideband service hired-gun that tells US citizens the wideband is broadband?

      The US telecommunication infrastructure is very ducked up just as the ITU and other reports have been stating for the past decade.

      Telcos software/service patch/package and area-code/subscriber databases upgrades are as directed more than as needed. So, even wire-call miss-routing, phantom
  • shameless (Score:5, Funny)

    by BortQ (468164) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:19PM (#16788803) Homepage Journal
    Michael J. Copps is nothing but a faker.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:20PM (#16788813) Journal
    Seriously - it's much easier to wire-up a nation with less square mileage, no? It's a question of logistics.

    Now someone like, say, China or Russia having incredibly high broadband penetration? That would be damned impressive.

    /P

  • What? No chart? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pink_Ranger (1024741) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:23PM (#16788821)
    Not only does the article NOT have a chart, but it doesn't even bother to list who the OTHER 14 countries are?

    Also, I love how they mention ESTONIA with a tone that suggests we are somehow more "backwards" for falling behind them on some list. I'd be offended if I were Estonian.
  • Enough already (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:24PM (#16788827)
    I am not an American, but enough already. I travel the the US a lot. There is no shortage of broadband in most areas if you want it. Not everyone wants it. I have seen enough of these stories on Slashdot (and other sites) relating to poor penetration of boradband into the US last year that if I didn't know better I'd believe they were all using 14.4K dial-up. It simply ain't so...
    • by Phisbut (761268)
      I am not an American, but enough already. I travel the the US a lot. There is no shortage of broadband in most areas if you want it. Not everyone wants it.

      It's not about there being a shortage of broadband. It's about people in the US not wanting to get broadband because they charge way more for a much worse service. Any company could say "We'll provide broadband at any house that wants it, even if it's in the most rural area, at a price of $500 per month for a 1Mbps connection", people simply won't buy i

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:24PM (#16788829) Homepage Journal
    And in the 21st century, that's a bare minimum of gigapop IPv6 Internet to every home.

    Just as we've fallen massively behind in scientific research (US scientists leaving to go to Singapore, only 8 percent of NIH grants accepted compared to 20 percent in 2000), so we are falling behind on every measure that dictates what a First World country is.

    But, hopefully, our long national nightmare will be coming to a close. The stock market (a predictor of future investment) seems to think so.
  • Well, what then? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:24PM (#16788833)
    Well, what exactly can we do to turn this kind of situation around? Whine to congress to resurrect the Broadband America Bill? I don't see that happening. "Teach them telecoms a lesson by not buying it?" It'll never happen, we don't have that kind of organization and too many groups depend on what the system does provide. So what, pray tell, do we do? I've got no idea, but plenty of complaints. How about some proactive solutions?
  • by Reason58 (775044)
    Geographically, a single US state is as big or bigger than a lot of those countries. For example, Texas alone is 691,030 sq km, while the entire country of Japan weighs in at 377,835 sq km.

    I'm sure implementing a powerful network infrastructure would be quite a lot faster, cheaper, and easier, if everyone in America lived in Texas.
  • by SydShamino (547793) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:26PM (#16788849)
    In how many of those countries is the government creating the broadband infrastructure, or sponsoring it in the form of direct contracts or new monopoly grants, or in the form of an existing molopoly telecommunications giant?

    For the most part, the US has none of the above. Perhaps in this case the free market doesn't see sufficient justification for high-speed access to justify the costs, since people don't seem to know they can't live without such access until they first have it.

    I think this is a matter best handled at the local level. Either let businesses fight it out, or, if a local community considers it a useful monetary investment, let cities sponsor the broadband infrastructure. I see nothing wrong with the government creating the networks on which commerce can be done, but because the internet is such a new commerce network (compared to, say, roads), not every community will see it in the same way.
  • by piggydoggy (804252) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:28PM (#16788857)
    To hit every one of the 100 homes, it would take 1.3 to 2.6 miles of cable (depending on cable location). In a European city, this same amount of cable could easily cover 2-10X the # of families living in typical apartments/condos.

    But lower population density doesn't actually matter that much, since not only aren't there any marked differences with regards to suburbs, but because the telephone and TV cables through which to offer broadband are already installed. Few people live in ranches 30 miles from the nearest center of civilization, where the population density is pronounced and acquiring a broadband connection could actually be a problem.

    • Not sure if threading is fixed yet, so I will quote piggydoggy:

      "But lower population density doesn't actually matter that much, since not only aren't there any marked differences with regards to suburbs, but because the telephone and TV cables through which to offer broadband are already installed. Few people live in ranches 30 miles from the nearest center of civilization, where the population density is pronounced and acquiring a broadband connection could actually be a problem."

      a) DSL has a MUCH lower d
  • back when the internet was considered a truck. Taking UPS and FedEx out of the equation really hurt.
  • by blighter (577804) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:31PM (#16788887)
    I agree with all of the above posters' caveats about population density figuring heavily into our "lagging" broadband adoption.

    I did feel that someone should point out that the graph purportedly showing us as have the 2nd highest number of broadband lines installed actually shows us as having the second highest number of broadband connections added in the 2Q of 2006.

    Unless you somehow think there are only 2.5 million broadband users in the US, in which case we'd be far lower than 14 on the penetration list...

  • Monopoly in Areas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jawood (1024129) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:37PM (#16788919) Journal
    Too few of us have broadband connections, and those who do pay too much for service that is too slow

    That is becuase in many areas, there is only one (i.e. local monopoly), provider of broadband. In in some cases, those providers are telling their customers that they have to pay for their other services whether their customers want them or not. In other words, they're going to charge you an extra, say, $50 a month for service that may not even want.

    Government regulation is usually good for businesses because it keeps the competition away and it helps comanies keep their prices high - broadband is a fine example of this.

  • Wouldn't "gigabits per mile" make more sense as a metric to take into account how much more area there is to cover in the US veruss South Korea or Japan?
  • by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:37PM (#16788925)

    Free market? Maybe you didn't read the article:

    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.

    Doesn't sound like much of a free market to me.

  • by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <instascreed@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:39PM (#16788941) Homepage
    Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
  • No Excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:39PM (#16788945)

    Every time this topic is discussed, I hear the same excuses. Mostly, people claim that the US is too large and with too many rural areas. It's a load of crap. We've paid billions subsidizing the laying of lines, more per person than numerous other countries and we still have much slower and more expensive service than those countries. Sweden has been the model of how to do this right. Despite government corruption and favoritism on par with the US, they have managed almost complete saturation, for less per-person government subsidy, and with a population density almost the same as the US.

    The truth is, the US has combined the worst elements of several models. We don't have a free market to drive competition because of local telcom monopolies and failure of the FCC to enforce fair use. We don't have the benefits of central planning and widespread coverage of a socialist system, because the government just hands out money in subsidies and then does not even blink when that money does not go to the projects we were supposedly funding in the first place. So we get crappy coverage and service and high prices.

    The US has high labor costs, declining manufacturing, and not a lot of unique industry. The information economy and exporting intellectual property may be our best option for maintaining a real role as an economic powerhouse. For that to happen we need two things, education, and technology. We shouldn't be 5th in broadband or 10th, we should be 1st. That two trillion dollars we blew in Iraq would have run a fiber connection and provided free internet connections to every house in the US for years to come. Heck, just the money we spent already subsidizing telecoms would have provided a fast connection to every home if we'd actually just spent it on that instead of giving it away to monopolists.

    Have you seen China's network backbone diagrams? They have a beautiful three tiered full mesh that came out of a textbook. I know there is a lot of prejudice against socialist projects in the US, but we're falling behind very quickly. We either need internet and phone networks treated as a public utility and run by the government or we need to remove the local monopolies, stop politicians from taking the telecoms bribes, and have a real competitive market with equally huge subsidies given to any new players that want to build a complete competing network.

    The time has come. Suck it up and invest in the future of the US with hard cash and reforms, or be left behind the rest of the world. Most Americans are blind to how some other countries are now technologically superior. How their gadgets work everywhere and are more advanced than anything sold here. his needs to be corrected now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd (701)
      Quoting 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF:

      "Every time this topic is discussed, I hear the same excuses. Mostly, people claim that the US is too large and with too many rural areas. It's a load of crap. We've paid billions subsidizing the laying of lines, more per person than numerous other countries and we still have much slower and more expensive service than those countries. Sweden has been the model of how to do this right. Despite government corruption and favoritism on par with the US, they have managed almost comp
    • by Brickwall (985910)
      Well, in Canada, the province of New Brunswick (nestled up there on top of Maine, eh?) started a project to install broadband to every home a decade ago, and completed it earlier this year, with over 90% of homes having access to broadband service. The result? Only Newfoundland has a lower per capita GDP of roughly $24k Cdn, while New Brunswick's $26k is tied with fellow Maritime provinces PEI and Nova Scotia. Every other provincial or territorial jurisdiction in Canada (including the sparsely populated nor
      • So the claim that access to broadband means higher incomes is at best "not proven".

        Who said broadband meant higher incomes? I argued that ubiquitous broadband provides the potential for long term employment rate and economic benefits, given the changing nature of the global market. The practical benefits will take many years to become apparent for such a project and will be indirect enough that the correlation will never be 100% clear.

        If you look at US exports and the trend in US exports, you''ll be ab

  • I don't define what most of the country currently has a Broadband...10/5 and perhaps we can talk, but really we should be closer to Asian speeds.
  • These type of polls really amaze me. Oh noz!!!... we're falling behind on a medium primarily used for entertainment (or worse). Seriously, who the hell cares? The information is still accessible, just not as quickly and the quality and veracity of the information (which in many cases is questionable to begin with) does not change because of the download speed. Let's worry about more important things like streamlining healthcare, reducing pollution, whirled peas, etc. and leave these types of comparisons
  • We really do suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ahnteis (746045) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:41PM (#16788959)
    Compare us to Japan? How about to Canada. You know, that huge country just to our north with similar... well, almost everything.

    An easier comparison? Compare our big cities to theirs. We still lose. By a LOT.

    And then remember that WE (the tax payers) gave them $200,000,000,000 for broadband deployment.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:41PM (#16788965) Homepage Journal
    So is the situation better in densely packed cities like New York? Or is the problem that the incumbent carriers are dogs in the manger?
  • by schnikies79 (788746) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:43PM (#16788967)
    I live in a county with a population density of 71/(sq. mile) in southern indiana. my nearest neighbor is about 1/2mi away and the nearest stoplight is 12mi away.

    this is common in the US, so there is no surprise that broadband penetration is like it is. it cost an absolute fortune to run the infrastructure here. the cable tv companies decided not to install in the area because everyone already has satellite. this is the most hilly part of indiana so wireless isn't a good option. cell phone reception is great, if you're with cingular so maybe you could get broadband through them, i dunno. satellite internet isn't worth the price.

    seriously, whats the options?
  • by erikdalen (99500) <erik.dalen@mensa.se> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:43PM (#16788975) Homepage
    While all of what you say is true and of course a factor. The US is still far behind for example Sweden that only has ~20 people per square km. So other factors obviously play a big role as well.
  • by marcybots (473417) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:44PM (#16788983)
    If I have a 100 million people in my country and 10% of them have broadband, that is equvalent of 100% of a country of 10 million people having broadband...that means nothing. The united states is a very large country with a very large population. As a statistics professor, Its not "being fair" to mention installed lines, thats like comparing the murder rate in a city with 10 million with 15 murders to a city with 100,000 with 10 murders and saying the city with 100,000 is safer because their are less murders 33.3% fewer murders!
  • by norminator (784674) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:50PM (#16789031)
    I know TFA was about the percentage of broadband users, so the responses in most of the other posts are defending the US because of the population density factor. But the question I have is whether we're falling behind, not based on the percentage of broadband connections, but on the capacity of our broadband connections? Especially in regards to the price we pay for it?

    I pay $40/month for my 4Mb/300Kb connection. My city owns a network that doesn't quite extend to my corner of town (I'm one block from the edge of the network). The ISPs on that network offer up to 10Mb Up/Down for slightly less, but what are prices and speeds in other countries in the world? I've heard numbers tossed around here on Slashdot that put these to shame, but I don't know how reliable those are. So what I want to know is how does the U.S. compare when it comes to our broadband speeds and prices (for residential users, particularly)?
    • I pay $40/month for my 4Mb/300Kb connection. My city owns a network that doesn't quite extend to my corner of town (I'm one block from the edge of the network). The ISPs on that network offer up to 10Mb Up/Down for slightly less, but what are prices and speeds in other countries in the world? I've heard numbers tossed around here on Slashdot that put these to shame, but I don't know how reliable those are. So what I want to know is how does the U.S. compare when it comes to our broadband speeds and prices (

    • Here are current prices in Toronto from Robbers, the local cable monopoly: (all prices in Cdn$= .9 US$)

      Extreme: 6 Mbps down/800 k up for $51.95/month (+ $3 modem rental, or buy modem for $99)

      Express: 5 Mbps down/384 k up for $43.95/month (+ modem as above)

      Lite: 1 Mpbs down/128 k up for $31.95/month (+ modem as above)

      UltraLite: 128k down/64 k up for $21.95/month (+ modem as above)

      All come with a 60 GB activity limit per month (additional use at $1.25/Gig)

      So the 43.95 Cdn = $39.55 US for the Expr

    • Cincinnati Ohio: At the moment you can get 3Mb/768kb for $20/mo That comes with free wireless access.

      My mom, in Rio Rancho NM, can get free wireless. It's only 512Kb/60Kb and for 1 hour a day, but it's free.
  • by kirkb (158552)
    Michael J. Copps is either faking it or has deliberately stopped taking his medication.
  • Once the control is transfered to a UN agency by the world-friendly new Congress, proliferation of broadband will immediately sky-rocket in the US.

    As Borat would say: NOT!

  • by fortinbras47 (457756) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:54PM (#16789055)
    This doesn't explain everything, but it does explain a lot. The list is available here [itu.int]

    Looking at the list, you notice two trends. (1) Cold northern countries are in the top 15... Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Canada etc... (2) Smaller countries with highly dense population centers are in the top 15... Korea, Netherlands, Denmark, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Iceland (Iceland which is both cold and small is at the very top)

    That said, we probably could do better with increased compensation because we're so goddamn rich, and compared to other countries on the list, we have such a low penetration of DSL.

  • Might this have something to do with the fact that we have a BIGGER POPULATION than those other countries? Tell me, now... which is more expensive:

    1. A country with 300,000,000 (US) people of which a percentage (likely only the middle and upper class) have broadband and all the associated infrastructure (in a country with a tanking economy)
    2. A country with 130,000,000 (Japan) people of which a larger percentage (even the lower middle have more money than the middle here in the US) have broadband and all t
  • Right now, the telco's own the lines and own the services. CLEC's can lease space at a huge price that does not allow true competition.

    What is needed is to split the ILEC's into services, and physical infrastructure. Require the PHY telco's to build-out the rest of the network so that at least everyone can get SOME kind of DSL, and have a long term plan to migrate to fiber. The services side (telephone, ISP) would have to compete with everyone else (CLEC's) and pay the exact same amount for "colo" space at
  • ... if I'm not mistaken, China may have added far more broadband lines, but those are federally funded - you know, the whole socialist thing - and heavily censored, at that.

    It wouldn't surprise me if, in nearly all countries that beat the US in broadband penetration, those connections are supported much more by taxes than here in the US.
  • 2nd in the world (Score:3, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @05:58PM (#16789105)
    Yeah -- and we're also the world's third-most-populous country.

    Somehow it doesn't sound nearly so comforting put that way, does it?

  • Here in france, we have a wonderfull provider : Free (iliad group) Read : - Broadband connection up to 25Mb/s (depending of distance from DSLAM) - They have introduced in france the "box" concept, an adatper that do VOIP (compatible with traditional phone, at incredible prices - generally free), ethernet switch, router, and initially TV output - now TV output is on a secondary device, connected to the main (linked to the DSL line) with a MIMO wifi connection. It provides HDCP connectors and all needed fo
  • Is that even though the US has a low population density, the population is moving towards Urban centers rather than into the country side.

    So in truth, if you just look at Urban areas, those are increasing exponentially towards higher density, while many people are moving from the rural the urban areas.

    Eventually the US will have more citizens living in Urban areas in a decade or so and there will beno excuse for lack of broad band.

  • People are saying "But we have a low population density, only 30 person per sq. km!".

    Does that mean Australia's broadband penetration should be 15 times lower per capita than America's, with a population density of 2 people per sq. km.?

    A good logic, but there are 1.3 million consumer broadband lines in Australia - 1 per 15 persons. The US has 69 million broadband consumers from 300 million population, 1 per 4 persons.

    So all of you people whining about how it's a stupid and specious comparison on the grou

  • Recalling the immortal words of General Buck Turgidson,

    I mean, we must be... increasingly on the alert to prevent them from taking over other mineshaft space, in order to breed more prodigiously than we do, thus, knocking us out in superior numbers when we emerge! Mr. President, we must not allow... a mine shaft gap!


  • A number of posters have mentioned the geographic factor, but I didn't see any comments about the leapfrog factor: first movers can end up looking fairly lame toward the end of an infrastructure cycle. All the same, Canada and the US entered into the internet era at the same time facing mostly the same geographic challenges, and so far as I'm aware, Canadian cities have come out ahead on the whole.

    I guess the main difference is that our Canadian monopolies form an orderly, bovine progression to the feed bu
  • Well, duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @06:05PM (#16789173) Homepage Journal
    When you have a monopoly (many areas in the US have broadband monopolies), and in particular a shitty one (Cox in this case) that will turn off your internet connection for downloading a NOCD crack for a game that was LEGALLY PURCHASED (Lego Star Wars II), It makes the whole point of broadband almost moot.

    I mean, even 50x more bandwidth than the pathetic 200 kb/sec I'm liable to get on a good torrent is not a lot when they are doing traffic shaping.

    Now if there was a broadband offering here in San Diego County that gave true 1mb/sec downloads without traffic shaping, monitoring, shutting off the connection YOU ARE PAYING FOR, or other such shenanigans then I could reasonably recommend them to family and friends. As it stands, You might as well just use dial up, since email, google, and MySpace is all the internet is good for anyway. What good is broadband without bit torrent? Are there hundreds of uses that I'm somehow missing? Does the average person really give two shits about streaming random teenagers singing into a webcam on youtube?

    The corporate stranglehold on this country is the problem. It is the terminal malignancy that we are under not just in the technology sector, but in every way that should matter to the US citizen.

    Yay, we voted out the corrupt and dirty Republicans! What's that you say, the Democrats are just as sold out to corporate interests and also don't give a shit about the American populace or the concepts of civil liberty as envisioned by our forefathers? Oh, shit....

    rhY
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @06:09PM (#16789197)

    ... if I'm not mistaken, China may have added far more broadband lines, but those are federally funded - you know, the whole socialist thing - and heavily censored, at that. It wouldn't surprise me if, in nearly all countries that beat the US in broadband penetration, those connections are supported much more by taxes than here in the US.

    That might have some weight if the US had not spent over 200 billion subsidizing our broadband internet development over the last few years. The US has spent a great deal more in taxes, per person, than countries that have completely free networks via socialist programs.

  • But lower population density doesn't actually matter that much, since not only aren't there any marked differences with regards to suburbs, but because the telephone and TV cables through which to offer broadband are already installed. Few people live in ranches 30 miles from the nearest center of civilization, where the population density is pronounced and acquiring a broadband connection could actually be a problem.

    Two problems with this argument:

    1. Maintenance
    Despite the fact that the infastructu

  • If you think that things are falling behind in the US, take a look at Australia. We pay three times as much for a slower connection that has monthly data limits (in most cases). Most normal ADSL connections are limited to 1500kbps/256kbps, and limit your bandwidth after you've downloaded a certain amount of data. ISPs and telcos are slowly rolling out their own DSLAMS for ADSL2+ (which will offer a theoretical speed of 24Mbps), but once you get outside of the heavily populated areas, you're stuck paying a
  • Obviously those Americans who are yelling "but we have more land to cover" have a point. But it's not, I think, a very good one. If something is going to get done, it's going to get done- especially with the enormous volume of cable already laid for cable TV and telephone service. The real problem is not land area- it is corprate mentality.
    • If something is going to get done, it's going to get done- especially with the enormous volume of cable already laid for cable TV and telephone service.

      The existing infrastructure is basically useless for broadband. The old copper phone lines in much of the country won't carry a high speed signal (a lot of the ones on overhead lines are really rotting due to weather exposure, etc.) The cable infrastructure is crap, a lot of installed 30 years ago by people who didn't really know what they were doing--splitt

  • "But lower population density doesn't actually matter that much, since not only aren't there any marked differences with regards to suburbs, but because the telephone and TV cables through which to offer broadband are already installed. Few people live in ranches 30 miles from the nearest center of civilization, where the population density is pronounced and acquiring a broadband connection could actually be a problem."

    So there's urban, suburbs, and ranches 30 miles from anywhere?

    I live in a town of 6,000 p
  • I'm not disagreeing with anything you have said. Broadband sucks in the US and getting bigger intertron tubes is one of the few things I'd even like to pay taxes for. I'm practically waiting with a plate of cookies for the Verizon fiber truck to come to my street.

    But in those countries with cheap ubiquitous super-fast broadband... what can they do that we can't? OK, hi-def TV streaming is possible with high speed. But is that actually a product they can purchase?

    What are they doing with their fat pipes besi
  • Clearly, we must force a regime change in Estonia before the Axis of Evil can harness their mighty broadband penetration to further their goals of nuclear proliferation, uncle abuse, and dog hickies.
  • Re:No Excuse (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Sweden is one of the least corrupted countries in the world after Finland. The United States is way down in the Transparency International index...
  • This has been on my mind for some time now. I'm now at the limit of what Speakeasy can offer with their ADSL service, 7Mbs/768Kbps. While this is good enough for my current needs, I do not have room to grow as I add IP based services.

    I recently had an email exchange with Speakeasy and they do not plan to invest in new technologies to either replace their ADSL offering or upgrade it. Also, WiMax will not be deployed beyond downtown Seattle. Speakeasy, are you looking to be bought out?

    If Speakeasy dies or
  • (Americans) may be 15th in the world in broadband penetration
    You know, that is probably the first good explanation I've heard for why everyone drives such large cars.
  • I was in France recently and saw an add for 28mpbs ADSL2, HDTV w/tivo, and telephone service with free calls in France and to 28 countries, $37 USD/mo. Awesome.

    I like the price, but then realized that if I have HDTV and Tivo, what do I do with 28mbps internet? What do i do with the 768k that I have now? (note: I have DSL ONLY because it is literally cheaper than dial-up) I read Slashdot, Play Kingdom Of Loathing, and do research (reading) for work. (12mbps for 5,000 people in the office)

    What the hell d

  • Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that having the option to -get- broadband isn't better, and I'm also not saying that we shouldn't encourage people to -get- higher speed broadband if it helps make it more widely available.......
    ..... but aren't we all looking at this the wrong way? The problem isn't that there isn't bandwidth, the problem is more "what are the average people DOING with the bandwidth"? Sure, tech savvy consumers are out downloading music, movies, pr0n, etc, but the -majority- of t
  • "Seriously though, the author completely ignores the vast geographic differences between the US and other industrialized country when categorizing the US as falling behind in broadband acceptance."

    And you completely ignore the fact that L.A. and NY are also way behind these other countries but have similar population densities.
  • Seriously though, the author completely ignores the vast geographic differences between the US and other industrialized country when categorizing the US as falling behind in broadband acceptance. The US has an average population density of ~30 people per square km, industrialized Europe's is ~100, while Japan's is 336. The higher the population density, the less cable is needed (and hence, the lower the cost) to provide broadband to all these people.

    I used to think the same- until I went looking for bro

    • Verizon's official line is that it is "easier" to work in the Suburbs; possibly true, but in the city, you have 10-50 times the customers for any given block; even if you have to hire 2x the crews to finish the job faster, hire police details, pull more permits...you'd still make your money back faster.

      I suppose that one possibility is that Verizon is making shit up. The other possibility is that you're wrong and their number crunchers are right. Running infrastructure in urban areas costs a fortune. A numb

  • but because the telephone and TV cables through which to offer broadband are already installed

    So you're saying that distance has no effect on the availability of DSL, for example, through an existing phone line?
    Umm...ok
  • "Seriously though, the author completely ignores the vast geographic differences between the US and other industrialized country when categorizing the US as falling behind in broadband acceptance. The US has an average population density of ~30 people per square km, industrialized Europe's is ~100, while Japan's is 336. The higher the population density, the less cable is needed (and hence, the lower the cost) to provide broadband to all these people. "

    I agree. But the communications companies have had eno
  • That money figure must be the economic estimate for computer repair shops milking users for the cost of removing spyware because US broadband companies don't configure hardware firewalls with their broadband connections.
  • Re: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=205797&cid=16 7 88925 [slashdot.org]

    Free market? Maybe you didn't read the article:
    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 te

  • Broadband availability and offerings is worse in the US than even countries like Norway, with a population density of 14 people per square kilometer (less than half that of the US), just as with cellphone coverage...
  • What's that you say, the Democrats are just as sold out to corporate interests

    The Democrats aren't perfect, but a HELL of a long way from being as pro-corporate as the Republicans. I can't even guess what imaginary world you live in, that could possibly look like the Democrats are remotely as bad as the Republicans, on this issue.

    It isn't the Democrats always pushing for "tort reform" (codeword for eliminating your right to sue business). It isn't the Democrats that have been rubber-stamping every monopol

  • Re:Enough already (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rick17JJ (744063)

    I live in Arizona and for years have been trying to get a high-speed Internet connection, but only 26.4 K dial-up was available. Last week DSL finally became available from the telephone company and I am now enjoying my new 1.5 Mbs DSL connection. It is a wonderful improvement over 26.4K dial-up. In my neighborhood, 56K modems had only been able to connect at 26.4K and DSL was not available. I had not been able to get either cable or DSL even though I have had to watch their advertisements for both pro

  • If you read the earlier story, it was disabled for today as they run a fix to the MySQL database to fix a problem where a value in a table was not the correct type (Read: It could not grow as large as the database had grown)
  • Rural? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:06PM (#16789879) Homepage Journal
    I live in a county with a population density of 71/(sq. mile) in southern indiana. my nearest neighbor is about 1/2mi away and the nearest stoplight is 12mi away.

    That works out to ca 27 people per square kilometre, or about TWICE the density of Norway - a country with broadband offerings that are far better than most of the US...

    Americans tend to compare USA to densely populated Central European nations to complain about how rural the US is whenever cellphone coverage, broadband or public transport is brought up. But there appears to be a tendency to ignore the fact that this somehow isn't an issue for Norway, Sweden etc. that have far lower population densities.

    In fact, only 12 US states have population densities below that of Norway, and their total population is about 17 million.

  • Well,

    sure, China is #1 with a populatin of 1.2 Billion and
    USA is #2 with a population of 270 Million .... But that is missleading as the 1st post / insightfull rating of: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=205797&cid=167 88797 [slashdot.org]

    Truth is: the figures and situation is: BROADBAND LINES ADDED not the EXISTING ones.
    ADDED in the US got 2.5 million new broadband lines. (with 270 million inhabitants)
    ADDED in france + germany + UK got .... 2.5 million lines (with about 190 million inhabitants)

    So: per million inha
  • by wikinerd (809585)
    I have 2mbps ADSL and multiple 3G connections in Greece, and I see Americans, inhabitants of USA, the world's only hyperpower, complaining that they only had 20kbps dialup in Arizona. Why?

    Why is broadband not ubiquitous in the most powerful country of the world?

  • Nonsense. The density argument is worthless. Yes, the average density is lower. But it's only because there's much more empty land between cities. Now, please explain why broadband sucks so much in NYC or Chicago, when I can get 24 Mb/s + TV + VOIP for 25 EUR a month in the boonies in France.

    The truth is that there is no real competition in the US, whereas all it took in France was a very aggressive competitor that forced all the old national carriers to compete, or die. And before you ask, yes, it built it
  • The US isn't even in the same race. I've been on 100MB FTTH here in Tokyo for the last 3 years (25MB ADSL before that). Included with it I get IP telephony services which allow for very cheap international calling rates (I do use SkypeOut instead though) and also free domestic calls to other IP Tel users). I also get TV over IP with a variety of foreign and domestic stations. All the above for about $45US/month, no capping/limits. Eat that Uncle Sam. They need to clean up the corruption in the US Telecoms
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:59PM (#16790537) Homepage Journal

    The physical factors account for some of it, but not much. For one thing, the suburban qualities of America doesn't give much insight into why it is that city dwellers in most of America still have broadband speeds that pale in comparison to those in much of Europe and Asia. Remember that according to the FCC, broadband means anything over 200kbs, so talking about "broadband" in America and South Korea is really talking about two completely different things.

    The "America is so huge" argument doesn't work when you also recognize that most Americans only have two broadband providers to choose from. The consolidation of the telecom market means that it is a losing proposition for one carrier to enter a geographic market that another carrier has already taken. Usually it comes down to "competition" in the form of a choice between the dominant local telecom and whichever cable operator has the contract for the area. You can drink anything you want, as long as it is Coke or Pepsi.

    By defining broadband as an "information service" the FCC and the Supreme Court (in the Brand X decision) turned the incombent telecos and cable companies loose. They no longer had to lease excess capacity to new entrants in the market. The anti-competitive measures taken by the Baby Bells in the late 1990s were essentially excused and ratified, and almost all of the plucky broadband competitors that sprung up to bring broadband to the masses were squashed by the giant, slow-moving, ever-consolidating telecom entities.

    The South Korean approach worked in part because the government created an initial infrastructure and allowed carriers to compete on top of it. Here in the US, we talk about the free market incessantly, but in reality we have coddled the Baby Bells. They are the severed pieces of the old AT&T, which was essentially a government-protected monopoly for decades. So when the heads of these companies talk about how pissed off they are at Google, et. al., for using "their" networks, just remember that they were born rich. Sure, they built the fiber optic networks and invested billions in infrastructure, but were it not for government intervention in the early years of telecom, they would have been in the same place as Covad and all the other newcomers. Anyone can compete in the broadband market in theory, but in reality if the incumbents have a decades-long lead on you and billions of dollars, how in the hell are you going to get the funding necessary to compete? Of course, with that nice head start, the mutant offspring of the Baby Bells are fervent supporters of free market competition. Funny how that works, isn't it?

    Look up broadband prices in the US from 10 years ago, five years ago, and now. Evidence of a truly competitive market? Check prices per megabyte in the US against those in the OECD report linked to below. Something isn't right.

    I could go on and on about this, but Copps is right. The US is getting its ass kicked in broadband, and the "hands off" approach the government has taken over the last ten years has clearly not worked. Sure, we're a big country, but the technical aspects are the smallest part of the equation. After all, the Internet was started here. DSL was invented here. Fiber optic cable was first put to practical use here. We screwed up politically, and now we're paying for it.

    Broadband Reality Check II [freepress.net] (PDF)

    OECD report on broadband access in several countries [oecd.org]

    GAO report on broadband [gao.gov] (PDF) - takes the FCC to task for failures in its methodology for determining broadband penetration.

  • USA telecommunications being an international joke and rip-off is very old pre-2000 news.

    USA Broadband as defined (marketing spin) by most USA providers ain't in fact Broadband, it is wideband or less.
    USA proportionally has far less citizen/public broadband access to the Internet than most other developed nations' citizens.

    Our government provides Billions of tax dolors annually to foreign countries with much better telecommunications
    infrastructure than currently exist in the USA, while politicians also make
  • First, this was meant as a reply to another post asking for comparison.
    But /. now allows for discussions that need no more replies.

    Ok, here are the key data about my current broadband account in Germany, I'm a hansenet customer (alice-dsl.de)

    At ~40 (50USD) I get dsl (ADSL2+) and ISDN phone service. I have nominal 16000KBit/s down, 1000KBit/s up, in fact it is 17800/1150 as my home is close to an access point. Taking losses at the dsl-modem in account, this translates to ~1,8 MB/s down, 110KB/s up. Included
  • Sorry, but your argument of geographical dispersion and population density is not enough, it should be countered by the technological advance the US have over the rest of the world. I live in Portugal, a small country, considered to be on the "tail of europe". Portugal is full of mountains, and there are entire villages up north with less than 1000 inhabitants. But we get ADSL everywhere we have a phone line ( -> everywhere we have light -> everywhere), minimum speed is 1mbps, average is 4mbps, with s
  • The U.S. has higher broadband penetration than, among others, Australia, Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain.

    Well, maybe they can adopt our policies and get their broadband penetration up before they're left behind.
  • The problem with these stats is that for countries that have invested in a government sponsored program, everyone who wants internet access gets broadband, whether they want it or not.

    I'm sure a significant number of people in the U.S. are satisfied with their current options. I know I am, and I have the option to get faster service for a slightly higher price. It's just not worth it to me. But these statistics as used in the story assume that I'm just desperate to get Internet access like they have in K
  • How many percent of the US citizens would be able to afford broadband if it was available everywhere? I have numbers for the exact income distributions, but US has significantly larger social differences than Europe and Japan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Poverty_Index [wikipedia.org]
  • There's a lot of people saying that the USA has such shitty broadband service because in the USA, we're too spread out, and wiring us up for 100mbit fiber connections would be "too expensive." Don't buy into the hype, its a load of bullshit. Why? Because there are plenty of places in the USA with population densities as high as South Korea or Japan. Know what? They don't have decent internet either. The reason is purely the consolidation of the Telecommunications industry and a lack of antitrust actio
  • show the US at a 12th place

    http://www.oecd.org/document/9/0,2340,en_2649_3422 3_37529673_1_1_1_1,00.html [oecd.org]

    it ALSO has a nifty penetration/inhabitants per sq km ... (hmmm, that just sounds wrong)

    anyhoo, here's the list:

    1 Denmark
    2 Netherlands
    3 Iceland
    4 Korea
    5 Switzerland
    6 Finland
    7 Norway
    8 Sweden*
    9 Canada
    10 United Kingdom
    11 Belgium
    12 United States
    13 Japan
    14 Luxembourg
    15 Austria
    16 France
    17 Australia
    18 Germany
    19 Spain
    20 Italy
    21 Portugal
    22 New Zealand
    23 Czech Republic**
    24 Ireland
    25 Hungary
    26 Poland
    27 Turkey
    28 Slova
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:07AM (#16791598) Homepage
    Here in Canada things are starting to open up. I know my cable provider is going to be offering a "Nitro" service of 25Mbps in a week. We already have 10Mbps "Extreme" service, and the rest of us (cheap) chumps have to live with 5Mbps.

    I believe Telus and other phone companies are bringing out products with speeds similar to 25Mbpsvery soon. I'm just not willing to pay $100/mo to get them. :)
  • Seriously - it's much easier to wire-up a nation with less square mileage, no? It's a question of logistics.

    No. It's not "much easier" to wire-up a nation with less square mileage. What counts is the population density, not the size. If you cut the USA up in 50 pieces (let's call them "states") you'd find that wiring up the pieces is, on the average, exactly as hard as wiring up the entire USA.

    Sure, each individual piece is much smaller, but the thing is, each individual piece also has much less users,

  • Come on! If you're in an urban or suburban area in the US, you can almost always get broadband from either the cable company or the phone company (or both). Not to mention all of the wireless ISPs. Hell, my grandfather (now 90) has neither sewage nor water service, lives 10 miles down an unpaved road, and at least 15 miles from the nearest community of any size. Guess what? They have cable internet service through Adelphia. And they qualify for DSL from Verizon as well.

    The fact is, not everyone wants broadb
  • Estonia is probably the Internet capitol of Europe. It is a very small country (1 million citizens) that used to be part of the USSR. They speak almost the same language as in Finland where Nokia is located (and Linux originated), and after Estonia gained independence it was more or less taken over by Nokia, and rebuild as a model country for communication technology.

    It is no shame being listed after Estonia in Internet related statistics.

  • Is it just me or is the option to reply to a comment gone?

    Gone for me too. I am replying to you by clicking the little number to the right of your comment and then clicking the Reply button on the next screen. Weird that such hijinks should be necessary through.

    Same deal in Firefox and Safari.

  • People who are saying that Broadband is difficult in USA because population density is too small are ignoring the fact that inspite of the low population density Telephone lines exist. In Paris phone lines carry 24Mbps, ofcourse this requires that you are near the exchange. In other parts of France 512Kbps is available, inspite of the fact that France is a socialistic and protectionist country. I would expect USA being a Capitalist country to do much better. But the fact is USA no longer has real capitalism
  • Uh - China doesn't have completely free networks. Not even close. Residential service costs 80RMB per month (5% of a person's monthly income) and it frequently fails. Not even mentioning the censorship imposed by the benevolent socialist government.
  • Seriously - it's much easier to wire-up a nation with less square mileage, no? It's a question of logistics. Now someone like, say, China or Russia having incredibly high broadband penetration? That would be damned impressive.

    Looks like they're saying it about China [itu.int].

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