US Broadband is slow because that's the state of the infrastructure -- the infrastructure is very expensive to build out, and most of the country can't support a broadband build out.
It may surprise some, but the majority of the United States is not serviced by a cable television or internet system:
Why is an area not serviced? Because it's not cost effective to build there -- there aren't enough subscribers willing to pay enough money to make the build out financially reasonable for a private company.
So how about municipal broadband? Take the private company out of the picture and make internet a government service and it must get really cheap, right? Well, Bristol, Virginia is considered the most successful implementation of Municipal Broadband right now. This village of 17,000 people offers fiber optic connections to its residents for....roughly the same price as TWC or Comcast (for comparable speeds) and far far more expensive for 1GBps service ($320/mo) than Google offers.
This after using $26 million in grant money (so that's $1,541 per resident) to get the infrastructure in -- so it doesn't even have loans or bonds to service with its fees. This is the huge improvement offered by municipal broadband?
The facts are this:
1. Huge portions of the country cannot be cost effectively serviced by high speed internet access.
2. Any mandate to bring high speed internet access to those areas is going to be paid for by higher costs or higher taxes on those who do live in connected areas
3. Most large population centers do not have enough potential 1Gbps residential customers to make it cost effective to upgrade the equipment in those locations to support 1Gbps connection speeds -- businesses can already get those speeds and more but it is not inexpensive.
4. New entrants with deep pockets don't have to deal with replacing equipment that is still being used to pay for the debt taken out to install it in the first place, but they will. Verizon isn't expanding their FiOS network anymore, and everyone is trying to get an idea of whether Google is able to pull off the economics of their Fiber projects.
5. More options for internet service in a community mean lower market shares for the participants, which means lower revenue from the market, which means lower return on the installed assets required to offer service, which means either raising rates or exiting the market.
Here's an example: Lets say there are 100 people per day who want to fly from Harrisburg, PA to Scranton, PA. The smallest plane that a commercial airline can use to make this flight has seats 40 people and costs $10,000 plus $50 for each passenger to fly between the two cities.
Which is more efficient:
a. Ten airlines each offer one flight a day between these cities. On average, there are 10 passengers for each flight, so the flight costs $10,500 for each of the ten airlines. They spend a combined total of $105,000 per day and have combined capacity to serve 400 people, 4x as much as average demand. The airlines need to make a 5% profit margin on their flights, so with a cost per passenger of $1,050 ticket prices average $1,102.
b. Three airlines each offer one flight a day between these cities. On average, there are 33 passengers for each flight, so the flight costs $11,650 to operate for each of the three. They spend a combined total of $34,950 and have combined capacity to serve 120 people, 20% more than normal demand to allow for surges during holidays and such. With the same 5% profit margin on a cost per passenger of $353 ticket prices are $370.
Which of these offers the customer more choices? Which of these scenarios would you rather be in if you had to fly between these or similar cities? Which one of these is an overall more efficient use of resources, less environmentally taxing, etc?
Broadband buildouts are much the same way -- like an airline there are a lot of sunk costs regardless of subscription rates. Like an airline pricing needs to be set in order to achieve certain economic outcomes. Like an airline, if pricing and demand do not intersect for a given situation, there is no economic viability to that service.