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Broadband Envy: Fixing American Broadband 847

Ant writes "Broadband Reports has a story on broadband services among countries including United States falling behind: 'Bombarded with tales of South Koreans and Swedes watching high-definition soap-operas via 100Mbps connections, the media has apparently developed a nasty case of broadband envy. This Reuters article suggests the US has "missed the high speed revolution", while last week Business Week dubbed America a "broadband backwater".'"
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Broadband Envy: Fixing American Broadband

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  • by danielrm26 ( 567852 ) * on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:31AM (#10138538) Homepage
    First off, we already know that "we have a much larger infrastructure". That argument is tired. We're still behind - even accounting for this significant hurdle. Other countries have made it a priority and have put measures in place that allow the process to bypass red tape and move forward.

    We haven't, and we need to.
    • by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:33AM (#10138559) Homepage Journal
      Rural communities don't get broadband because there's no profit in it. Suburbs don't get 100Mb connections because there's no profit in it. Maybe if we get rid of the profit we could get some comparable connection speeds. How? Community based fiber to the home. It's already worked in dozens of places, and has helped to keep declining communities from fading out of existence.
      • by PatHMV ( 701344 ) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:58AM (#10138886) Homepage
        I agree that we don't have widespread super-broadband because there's no profit in it in many places. And in some places, a government-run community based fiber system has worked - for now. But government intervention has the tendency of freezing the marketplace and ending the competition for new technologies.

        Your cable modem rate would be much higher or may never have come about were it not for the phone companies offering DSL (and vice versa). Both competitors in that situation were willing to absorb large capital costs in order to make sure the other guy didn't get a jump on them.

        Right now, there is a lot of competition to find new ways to set up high-speed connections. The cable companies, the phone companies, the electricity companies, cell phone and other wireless provider companies -- all these guys are hard at work looking for new technical solutions. If suddenly everybody has a government subsidized, decent speed pipe going into the home, all that competition will slow down or end and we may miss out on even better technologies that might come down the pipe later.

        Look how long the phone service monopoly kept us stuck on 1920s-era technology services. Then France leap-frogged us by setting up Minitel service, but their adoption of Minitel by a government monopoly kept them out of the early stages of BBS and internet growth.
        • by jellybear ( 96058 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:29AM (#10139333)
          The parent post said "community" fiber to the home. Sometimes the impetus came from schools needing faster conenctions. But it could easily be ordinary citizens. The government, of course, needs to be involved if for no other reason than they have the authority to grant or deny the right of way. Imagine, though, if the town gave its people right of way along certain paths, and left it up to us to lay the fiber. I'm sure there are volunteer groups that would jump at the chance to have super high speed to the home. The motivating force to upgrade would be our own innate technolust, not some bottom-line economic motivation, or some political motivations.

          I say, find out where the incentives and motivations are, and harness that. In this case, the motivated people are the users themselves. I anticipate someone will argue that if people really wanted it, they would pay for it. My counterargument is that, right now, the market does not offer that option. The current North American experience demonstrates clearly that when there are a handful of players, and the ability to compete depends on a heavily regulated access to right of way, then the corporations will NOT cater to the desires of consumers, but rather strategically limit the options of users to maximize returns. In Canada, the two main broadband ISP's (Rogers and Bell), are either charging people extra for high bandwidth usage, or cutting off service to people who go above a secret, unstated, quota. The profit motive is not causing them to upgrade their service in any serious way. It's only causing them to squeeze the consumer harder.

        • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:00PM (#10139785) Homepage
          "I agree that we don't have widespread super-broadband because there's no profit in it in many places. And in some places, a government-run community based fiber system has worked - for now. But government intervention has the tendency of freezing the marketplace and ending the competition for new technologies."

          But the articles clearly show that this has not been the case. Highspeed access has progressed in leaps and bounds in Asia and Europe precisely because the governments pushed aside businesses to mandate change.

          I must say that the profit motive is the very reason that we pay so much and get glacial melt speeds. There is no profit margin in upping speeds. Only costs -- if you use MBA logic.

          Once again, it is selective cost accounting. If the ONLY reason to do anything contructive is to make a short-term profit for a corporation, then innovation slows. If a nation doesn't subcribe to the profit-only model of innovation, they can factor in things like quality of life, or overall good for the greatest number, or creating LONG-term profits in exchange for America's short-term model.

          I don't have to pound theoretical justifications into the ground here. I merely point to South Korea and NW European nations. They have mandated that the fiber be dropped, the last mile crossed. They ate the short term costs, pretty major ones, in exhange for the long term success, ie everyone is hooked up for a reasonable cost. They don't need to "innovate" to get it done. It's DONE. They did it. No more nonsense.

          And I'm sitting at home nursing a 128 kb cable connection at peak hours for 55 dollars a month. And they are raising the rates again. And they've locked me into a 100 dollar a month TV/internet package. Tell me who's being "innovative" here, the engineers, or the MBA's draining us?

          If the US highway system had been built using the same logic of those building the internet, we'd be paying thousands of dollars in tolls a year to move at 20 miles per hour around private roads surrounding the suburbs. And all of it justified by profit-only cost accounting and hands-off government policies. And the roads would be heavily policed to see if anyone is carrying VHS copies of movies or cassette tapes of CDs, 'cause we wouldn't want intelectual property thieves causing liability for the road companies.

          PS: the bushies have negotiated a new addition to new interstate highway funding in the future, kids; they'll all be toll roads. Welcome to the future rebuilt -- they just may get their private roads after all.
          • by AmericanInKiev ( 453362 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:23PM (#10140092) Homepage
            Toll road are great!

            Part of the reason we don't have safe transportation (as in electric busses, trains) stuff that doesn't cause lung failure - is that we pay the cost of using the road - whether we use ot or not.

            Free at the point of use - is not free - its gawddammn expensive - because it is garenteed to be wasted.

            If water was free in our homes - no one would even bother to turn off the tapp - "I like the sound the water makes - so I leave it on."

            For most people, the cost of stopping to pay the toll is higher than the toll itself less the cost of the tolltaker.
            - speedpasses solve that and should be made national.

            I don't care if the risk is spread between a few rich people who speculate or a few rich people who pay taxes. In otherwords - private doesn't mean much - unless - private means the owner can advertise to drivers - that I abhorr.


            • If water was free in our homes - no one would even bother to turn off the tapp - "I like the sound the water makes - so I leave it on."

              Water's free (ie: unmetered, paid through taxes) in my home and I don't leave the taps on. Do you know of any people who hyperventilate constantly because air is free?
              • Do you know of any people who hyperventilate constantly because air is free?

                You need think lessons my friend - I don't usually attack people for their stupidity - but you are coming really close to deserving it.

                Do people use up too much air because its free.

                Damn Straight they do.

                Take the whole state of tennesee - burning tons of coal into the air - which convienently for them wafts over the mountains into N. Carolina where they have some of the nations worst air.

                Not only is it "free" to hyperventilate
              • by renderhead ( 206057 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:52PM (#10140467)
                Do you know of any people who hyperventilate constantly because air is free?

                No, but I know plenty of people who pump poisonous fumes out of their tailpipes because air is free. Obviously, I'm not suggesting that air not be free. I've seen Total Recall!

                Besides, the grandparent post was obviously meant to be hyperbole, a "worst case" scenario meant to point out how things would be if we took our water as much for granted as we took our roads.
          • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:32PM (#10140198)
            If the US highway system had been built using the same logic of those building the internet, we'd be paying thousands of dollars in tolls a year to move at 20 miles per hour around private roads surrounding the suburbs.

            You've just described the Chicago suburbs.

          • by Nurseman ( 161297 ) <nurseman AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:41PM (#10140319) Homepage Journal
            Tell me who's being "innovative" here, the engineers, or the MBA's draining us?

            Not to be a troll here, but why exactly is it the Governments responsiblity to get you the internet service you desire ? I moved from NYC, where I had tons of high speed choices, to the boonies. I waited three years to get off dialup. But, I made the choice to move, I didnt expect the Govt to spend millions to offer me fiber to my door so I can surf the 'Net.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2004 @01:18PM (#10140789)
              This has nothing to do with providing a luxury item, this is no longer the industrial age. In order for a nation to remain competitive in this new information age the glacial speeds imposed by companies seeking to maximize profits must end. The individuals of the nation can not organize to collectively to this outside of the government, which is the organization of all individuals of the nation. This will be mandated by the collective of the government or the nation will no longer be a major economic power. The health of the nation is at stake here, if this is not done the US will become the new sick man of the world-do you know what entity was the last "sick man"? The Ottoman Empire. Think past the immediate or you will fail to understand the majority of things.
            • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:37PM (#10141646)
              High-speed internet access gives us a competitive advantage (or if we don't have it it gives other countries a competitive advantage over us), so it's an investment, not a luxury, just like how the interstate highway system was an investment.
          • Everyone says there is no profit in it. They are wrong. There is always profit in something -- the question is, for who?

            Who is going to really profit from ultra-high speed internet connections? Businesses and people who deliver DRM content. Porn sites, big media companies, etc. On the bright side, the technical innovators such as porn site owners and companies like Vonage have the potential to reap millions before over-regulation occurs.

            Guess who really pays for it? Suckers!

            Saying that businesses do thin
          • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @01:41PM (#10141036)
            Actually, you're wrong about the roads.

            Government sponsored roads were a government action that was initially seen as a way to keep the railroad and streetcar monopolies in check.

            I would welcome toll highways -- it is ridiculous that trucking companies get to wear out roads with their huge trucks at our expense.
            • You do realize that those trucks buy fuel, don't you? And that fuel has a fairly large tax on it. Also, they go through a lot of fuel, more than cars do. So, they do pay for the roads themselves (along with all the other motorists), just indirectly. But proportionally, it is still right in there.
        • And in some places, a government-run community based fiber system has worked - for now.

          Government has some success at building, maintaining, and regulating infrastructure in a way that has been exceedingly profitable for corporations. Just take a look at the transportation system with freeways, highways, airports, etc., and look at the regulation of radio broadcast standards and frequencies.

          Although I'm not one for having the government dinking around with everything, there are times when it makes se
      • by The Angry Mick ( 632931 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:00AM (#10138909) Homepage

        For those who may not remember, here's alink [pafiber.net] to a story on a community based fiber project in Palo Alto .

    • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <Satanicpuppy.gmail@com> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:38AM (#10138617) Journal
      Hey, we know its an unfair criticism, compared to small densly populated countries like Japan and Korea...Still, articles like this may light a fire under some suceptables asses, and get us better broadband.

      So let me be the second or third in decrying the deplorable state of broadband in this country! More porn! Faster porn! We are a shameful tech backwater! We might as well just be banging rocks together, settling for these crappy 3 megabit home internet connections. You know there is a direct correlation between the size of your pipe and the size of your penis, which means the Japanese and the Koreans have penises 33 times the size of ours! Even the women!

      I call upon all of you to complain to your senators about the tiny nature of our pipes. It's flat out un-american. How can we hold up our heads in the world? No wonder we're having to invade other countries to prove our manhood.
      • So let me be the second or third in decrying the deplorable state of broadband in this country! More porn! Faster porn! ... which means the Japanese and the Koreans have penises 33 times the size of ours! Even the women!

        What porn sites are you going to?


      • You know there is a direct correlation between the size of your pipe and the size of your penis, which means the Japanese and the Koreans have penises 33 times the size of ours! Even the women!
        Argument through fallacy is always the recourse of the weak mind.

        Don't you mean, "argument through phallasy?"
    • by JohnTheFisherman ( 225485 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:11AM (#10139074)
      ...would be that we had far more broadband years before most (all?) of these other countries, and the ISP portion was even built without the luxury of huge government subsidies. These other countries finally decided to invest in some broadband technology a few years ago, and the years-newer installation is faster. Duh.

      Ours will need to be upgraded at some point - and it will - and the leapfrogging will continue. We're also probably not going to see an incremental 2x or 4x improvement to keep up with the Joneses, but a 10x leap - but it probably won't happen for a few years.

      I wonder if their news services will publish "OMG! We aer teh technakal bak watar!11!" articles, or if they had done so several years ago when the US was pretty much the only place you could get affordable broadband for personal use?
  • So true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StevenHenderson ( 806391 ) <stevehenderson@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:33AM (#10138563)
    This is very true. The US is behind, and for good reason. While other countries develop cutting-edge infrastructures that are government-subsidized, we are stuck here in the US paying money to monopolies (read: Comcast, et al) for relatively substandard services. Sure, it might be more than enough for people now, but there is no reason that a nation as advanced as ours should be so backwards in this area.
    • Re:So true (Score:3, Informative)

      by pdaoust007 ( 258232 )
      So how do you explain Canada being ranked 2nd then? I live here (in Canada) and our infrastructures are definitely not goverment subsidized. Bell Canada, Telus, Rogers Cable, Shaw Cable and Videotron (the main players in broadband access) are all privately owned companies.
    • Not true (Score:5, Informative)

      by lokedhs ( 672255 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:54AM (#10138829)
      Bredbandsbolaget are not government-subsidised.

      I know some cities Internet connections are subsidised, but Bredbandsbolaget is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) ISP in sweden and are a privately-held company.

    • Re:So true (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:57AM (#10138866) Homepage Journal
      First, there are a LOT of reasons the US is behind, and the baby bells (bellsouth in my area) are largely to blame, because of FCC regs. But then again, so is localized monopoly of cable service (again, blame the FCC).

      The first step to cheaper broadband? FCC demonopolization of areas currently controlled by a single company (phone/cable). As it stands, I live in an area where I can only get Northland Cable. It sucks beyond beleif. They offer very slow connections at an outrageous price.

      Two months ago I had DSL, but when I moved, it was outside the range. So I switched (I also went with vonage, but hey). I am now paying MORE for LESS (which in this case sucks).

      Compare this to my mother. She lives 10 miles from the closest post office (give or take 2) in Boonesboro KY. It small enough that it doesn't even have its own zip code or fire dept. Bellsouth called her and offered DSL, starting this month. Go figure--she lives in the most rural area I can think of, and is getting DSL!!

      Let me reiterate--if we want faster cheaper internet, gov't subsidy is one way to go. The better way is to open up the competition. This will also decrease the price of cable TV (note that satellite has already helped with this, but more competition is always good).

      Nuff said.
  • Two years or so ago I visited Tami Nadu, a poor state in the south of India... Even in the smallest towns (say, 20 inhabitants which is nothing in India), you would find a place offering dirst-cheap internet acces (typically 2 or 3 computers sharing a 33.6k line). People there had taken to using that instead of phone because it was much, much cheaper! It allowed for exemple parents who had a son or daughter studying or working in an other city to contact him at a fraction of the cost of a phone call. It also allowed farmers to have up-to-date information on market price for their product or to ask for the delivery of fertiliser or spare parts for those who had a truck, or to know when one of their relative living in a city had an opening for a temporary job (at a building site, for exemple). It was amazingly useful - and it was not designed for tourists. Though we were happy to use the places, we were often the only foreigners the guy in charge of the place had had for clients this year. And while it was slow, for text emails a 33.6 line is more than enough. You really wanted to kill spammers there though - downloading 50 spam emails using broadband is annoying, but on a shared 33.6k line it's a real pain ;-)

    People who reacts to article like that by saying that internet is a luxury are missing the fact that basic internet services like emails or simple websites are in practice often the cheapest way to communicate - you get far more information out of your phone line. And even poor farmers in third-world countries need to communicate, if only to the nearest city. Internet is more than just a greater provider of pr0n and pirated music...
  • Area to cover (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mealtime_warrior ( 785122 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:36AM (#10138593)
    Sweeden: 173,732 square miles South Korea: 38,000 square miles USA: 3,537,441 square miles
    • Re:Area to cover (Score:5, Insightful)

      by easter1916 ( 452058 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:39AM (#10138633) Homepage
      Sweden population - ~8 million. Korea population - ~50 million. USA population - ~290 million. What was your point again?
    • Re:Area to cover (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Artega VH ( 739847 )
      Australia: Roughly the same size as the US
      population, bugger all..

      Broadband: non-existant.. the BEST is cable that is around 1.5mbit download and achieves around 15k/sec upload (its limited) you get around 12gb per month for around 80 bucks aussie (times by 0.7 for US dollars)... And that is only available in certain areas of sydney and other cities (not all areas) and totally forget about country areas...

      ADSL is popular, but I wouldn't class it as proper broadband... its slow (256kbps is common, 1.5mbit
    • Re:Area to cover (Score:4, Informative)

      by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:50AM (#10138783) Homepage Journal
      Canada: 3,855,102.64 square miles
      Penetration: Similar to South Korea
      Their solution: Public funding.
    • Re:Area to cover (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Aggrazel ( 13616 ) <aggrazel@gmail.com> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:52AM (#10138811) Journal
      2004 Military Budget:

      United States: 399.1 billion
      Sweeden: 4.5 billion
      South Korea: 14.1 billion
  • by UncleBiggims ( 526644 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:36AM (#10138594)

    The High Speed Revolution will televised in the US ONLY.

    In all other countries, it will be streamed in HD over 100Mbps connections.
  • by HMA2000 ( 728266 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:36AM (#10138596)
    On one hand I want to say "just relax the telecom/cable regulation so there are far lower barriers to entry." But you can't have every company with a couple wires digging up every street to spur competition. Then to make it even worse the existing telecom grid was put in place by private companies using MASSIVE government subsidies.
    I am about as hardcore capitalist as one could get but I think in the case of wired communication you have a natural monopoly that should be owned by the government so that a level playing field for all can be developed and create an enviroment with much lower barriers to entry. Of course to do that the current owners of the telecom grid would get F'd in the A so it's not as simple as that.

    • by Ignignot ( 782335 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:58AM (#10138882) Journal
      Then to make it even worse the existing telecom grid was put in place by private companies using MASSIVE government subsidies.

      Ah, but as Adam Smith said, the wealth of a country is proportional to the connectedness of the people in it (roads, trains, phones, etc.) so a government subsidy of broadband makes sense - it increases everyone's wealth and improves worker effeciency by leaps and bounds. The return from the combination of that and the multiplier effect should easily be enough to convince the government to invest in broadband connections for everyone. These things aren't just for entertainment and communication, they are extremely useful for work and education as well. I'm not suprised the US government has not subsidized the deployment, but they should.
  • by AGTiny ( 104967 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:37AM (#10138609)
    I just upgraded to 3Mbit/512k (in reality it's about 4/640) DSL for less than I was paying for 512k SDSL service. I pay around $45/mo. This is pretty good, and I can certainly understand the lack of 100mbit connections in a country as large as the US. I can download a couple Linux ISOs in a half an hour or so... I'm happy with it. :) Within 5 years or so we'll all look back on this and laugh... when everyone has gigabit ethernet or some other insanely fast fiber connection. Or maybe wireless!
  • by Gaewyn L Knight ( 16566 ) <vaewynNO@SPAMwwwrogue.com> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:38AM (#10138626) Homepage Journal
    Almost every other country we hear about doing this has one distinct advantage over the US. That advantage is that they have WAY less land mass to cover.

    For example... If you took all the wiring and fiber placed in Sweden to get the infrastructure they have and used it in the US you could probably only outfit New York and Chicago before running out of material.

    We suffer from the fact that as a nation we are a LARGE area to cover. Cell providers have figured this out. In iceland they can easily cover the whole country with a modest number of towers. Here in Michigan we have to have the same number of towers to cover the lower peninsula. Getting fiber between major cities in Sweden you are talking 150-250 miles while in the US you are talking 400-900 miles for the same setup.

    Tech scales well... but money doesn't and we are a large country to scale to. When we hear about China or Russia beating us on broadband availability then we seriously have to wonder what is going on.
    • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:50AM (#10138772) Journal
      The land mass per capita of Sweden is almost twice that of the US. Or, in other words, Sweden is almost half as densely populated as the US.

      So the cost per person of cabling out Sweden is probably more than the same exercise in the US. Frankly, this blows your argument out of the water.
      • Ahhh young grasshapper...


        But in Sweden 1 company can have a dream of covering the country in service and actually succeed in doing it. Even cell companies in the US have given up on that idea.
      • Frankly, this blows your argument out of the water.

        No, the GP argument still stands, IMO. For a single fixed sum of money put into Sweden, they can equip their whole country and say "Hey, we beat you! Nyah!" For the same amount of money, the USA can equip only, say, Ohio. Capital doesn't grow on trees, so what are the odds that US companies can source 50 times the capital to bring everyone in the country up to Sweden's broadband? Compound that with competition among cable/satellite TV, cell phones, vi
      • Sweden's population density is far more uniform than the US's. The US has some extremely dense areas (major east coast cities) that probably have very high broadband adoption rates, and extremely empty areas (some states like Nevada have maybe 2 or 3 people per square mile, and it's only that high because a few large cities here and there drives up the average) where broadband is not economically feasible (or at least it won't be until large-scale wireless arrives).

        I think the most useful piece of inform
  • by thinkninja ( 606538 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:41AM (#10138653) Homepage Journal
    Our postal service can't meet their targets and we are beholden to BT for all our telecommunications. At the very least in America there is a sembalance of competition.

    I'm mildly annoyed because a 72hr outage was caused by a cow (supercow powers) munching through some BT cable. Don't they bury these things?
  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:41AM (#10138663) Homepage
    12 comments, and most of them are already saying "its different because the US is so big!"

    Bullshit. Look at #2 on the actual report, sitting beside South Korea: Canada. Canada being both geographically larger and far less densely populated then the US, the size argument is blown up right there.

    The US is just a lousy place to get broadband.
  • by jetkust ( 596906 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:41AM (#10138665)
    South Koreans and Swedes watching high-definition soap-operas via 100Mbps connections

    And here I am, watching high-definition popup advertisements via 32 Kbps aol dialup. Like a sucker.
  • by lachlan76 ( 770870 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:44AM (#10138699)
    Maybe you should all stop complaining about how you don't all have ten megabit connections?
    Over here in Australia, we are almost all on 56k. I can count the number of people I know who have broadband on one hand.
    In the USA, you recently got to 50% of households with broadband. Care to guess how many people in Australia have access to high-speed internet? One million as of June 2004. Out of more than 20 million. THAT'S FIVE PERCENT!!!

    Just because some countries have faster internet, that doesn't mean you're falling behind.

    I'd kill people to get a 512k ADSL line, but I'm just not able to. Be happy with what you already have.
    • But your internet downloads differently to people in the northern hemisphere.

      Scientists discovered that all your flash animations and adverts spin the wrong way, and so halted progress on installation.

      Regular cable and ADSL don't work without massive changes.

      I was told thats why the crossover cable was invented.

    • Maybe you should all stop complaining about how you don't all have ten megabit connections?
      Over here in Australia, we are almost all on 56k. I can count the number of people I know who have broadband on one hand.
      In the USA, you recently got to 50% of households with broadband. Care to guess how many people in Australia have access to high-speed internet? One million as of June 2004. Out of more than 20 million. THAT'S FIVE PERCENT!!!

      Your statistics are somewhat muddled. The recent news [whirlpool.net.au] is that the num

  • by pdaoust007 ( 258232 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:49AM (#10138759)
    One thing I noticed when looking at the graph [oecd.org] from the OECD website is that cable modems seem to falling behind as the broadband connection of choice except in the US and a few other countries. Canada is about half and hald and the rest of the world is mostly using DSL...
  • Upload speeds? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @10:54AM (#10138837)
    I dont see the big advantage is just handing out download speeds. If you want true sharing be it running a server of some sort (web, game, etc), P2P, etc these companies really need to stop trying to placate us with higher download speeds and give up matching upload speeds.

    Many broadband providers are handing out multi-megabit connections but with 128k or sometimes 256k up. When I hear about matching upload speeds available in other countries it just drives me crazy that I'm paying Comcast 60 dollars a month for 3 down and 256k up.

    Face it: broadband users tend to do a lot more than just "consume online web ads." They use all sorts of P2P, be it eMule, bittorrent, kazaa. They want to be able to send friends and family large photos and media clips via email or ftp without waiting all day.

    On top of it, a lot of these foreign countries get their infrastructure subsidized by tax dollars, while here in the states the baby bells sit on DSL roll outs until they can get long distance sales rights or whatever they need that month. The cable people are just plain expensive. I think the US market still needs to grow up a bit, address customer concerns, and stop playing the favor system and start selling product.
  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:03AM (#10138962) Journal
    What I am really unsure about is whether these "10 Mbps connections" really provide 10 Mbps Internet connectivity. I am sittign on top of multiple OC3s, and the best actual Internet speeds I get is around 7 Mbps.

  • by Rocketboy ( 32971 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:18AM (#10139177)
    The news articles referenced dance around the problem while studiously refraining from saying it, but the issue in the US isn't geography, it's monopoly. I'll go out on a limb and make a prediction: 10mb/s+ links in the US will never -ever- achieve the market penetration rates that more advanced countries enjoy today. It's not in the Bell's economic interests for it to do so and they own the majority of the links to US homes. For a variety of reasons, Comcast is more of a contributor to the problem, not a solution. For the vast majority of us, broadband will get more expensive, not less, and what you can do with it once you have it will be increasingly restricted.

    Current trends indicate that the major driving force behind widespread adoption of high-speed access is connecting with one's friends, family, and social peers. Much of that communication involves what may euphamistically be categorized as "restricted" (from the point of view of copyrights,) material. Given the current lock that monopolies of various types have on US legislative processes, I don't really see that changing, or much scope for effective, economical use of emerging communication technologies. That's why I conclude that the US is now and will remain for the forseeable future, a technological backwater.

    It's also why Al Queda et. al. are already obsolete -- the US may have enjoyed the shortest run as the dominating global imperialist on record. We've been fading toward irrelevance in world affairs for a generation; the fall of the Berlin Wall destroyed both protagonists, it just took a little longer for us than for our Soviet cold war opponents. Of course, by the time it becomes obvious it will also be old history, but that's something the winners get to write. I hope someone writes it in my lifetime; I'd enjoy reading about it in my old age.

    Back to the point: the US won't get all these fun toys because to most of my fellow citizens, broadband internet access isn't obviously helpful to their lives. Many technology-oriented careers, not just IT, are fading from this landscape in a gradual but inexorable migration toward the east, and while college enrollments are up in general (that is, more kids are going to college,) enrollment in technical and scientific fields of study is falling. Interior design and English may be worthy fields of study but I'm not optimistic that a healthy economy can be based on them. And the education kids are getting these days is not particularly helpful.
    • by Lysol ( 11150 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:41PM (#10140316)
      My brother and his wife (who's Japanese) are moving back to the states from Tokyo. He was asking just the other day what kind of pipe I have. I told him it's a 1.5/384. He wasn't impressed as they were looking to upgrade they're 25mb to 100mb before they decided to move. Er, welcome home...

      We are truely seeing what happens when big media get's in bed with the FCC. While I believe that we will see higher speeds (Speakeasy is offering 6mb/768mb connections in some areas as well as DSL w/out a phone line - which I have), they will be nothing compared to some otehr countries. And I'm the first to agree this is dampening innovation. The pipe is now becoming a necessity in some areas, but don't expect the current administration to see that any time soon.

      Take this example. I'm actually developing a video conferencing app for a company. While some players like Apple, M$, and even Yahoo (altho, their offering isn't much to talk about) their own vconf apps (Apple's, obviously, being the best), they all have high bandwidth demands. Apple's Tiger nextegn Mpeg 4 codec promises to lower these requirements, but for all pratical purposes, that isn't the reality now.

      So for me, working on a new technology with a limited budget, I'm screwed. Unless I wanna fork out big bucks for a hige pipe, my 'innovation' is kinda dead in the water. And even if I did have a big connection, our business clients might not either. All because of artifical costs that the big providers complain about.

      Another issue. In San Francisco, as well as other cities, you have to go thru quite a few hoops - STILL - to get a connection up. The latest was with my Speakeasy Onelink service - which is basically a data-only circuit that doesn't require phone service from SBC. However, it still requires SBC to come out; as part of this requirement I waited all day only to find my line 'tagged' by SBC some time in the past few days. I then called the Speakeasy guys, who said that SBC isn't required to notify anyone during this step. Great. Now Speakeasy/Covad has to wait for SBC to notify them that they've finished. So far that hasn't happend. Gee. In other words, this whole process, after years of availibility, is still crap. Still inefficient. Still a joke.

      While I use Speakeasy exclusively - as a developer - since they're one of the only independent providers left - this whole process is still crap. The Bell's still have no intention of letting go of any control of the copper that we, the government, basically game them in the 40's/50's/60's. So while all these corporate interests still hold the keys, we'll be given little slices while other countries in the world will be given the whole pie thusly, enabling their little guys to 'innovate' a hell of a lot faster than ours. Of course, our adminstration and biz climate here is pretty stacked against the little guy, so no new news there.

      Argh, this whole thing pisses me off..
  • by Demon-Xanth ( 100910 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:19AM (#10139183)
    ...and I don't have any sub $100/mo options.

    I can SEE people that have had cable access for 20 years, but I can't get it. (literally, they're just one hill over). My sister gets 14.4k tops, and she's 1 mile away from her inlaws that get 48k. My phone line supports a flakey 26.4k max connection. The only thing that I get that says "DSL" is advertizing. Many people in the area and surrounding areas are in a state where the "bad line" just gets passed around from someone that complains to someone that doesn't. They're out of good lines. The problem?


    Upgrading the infrastructure costs money, and in an area that isn't currently being changed from an open field to high density subdivision who cares? The profit just isn't there. Let the lines corrode. Whenever it rains, my connection gets worse. The cover to the splice box at the top of the pole outside our house fell off two months ago. Last I checked the terminals are still open to the weather. That's how much they care.

    If we talked to the phone company could we convince them to do something? My dad tried when he was a systems tech FOR the phone company. Didn't work.

    Cheap broadband comes with a $300,000+ setup fee. The cost of buying a two bedroom house near a central office or in an area with cable.

    Who would've thought that California would be a third world country?

  • join the band (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:20AM (#10139206) Homepage Journal
    My (TimeWarner/RoadRunner) cablemodem came with 1.5Mbps (down). About a year ago, it jumped to 3Mbps (down), then this Summer it appears to have jumped to 4Mbps (down). No price hikes, no advertising, no sign except that my rate meter clocks higher. I expected the highly horizontal network architecture in my neighborhood to *decrease* my bandwidth over time, but it is rising. Combine that with my DSL connection (unchanged at 1.5Mbps), pooled but segregated per connection, and I've got about 6.5Mbps (down, + about 1Mbps up = 7.5Mbps). True, I'm paying about $125:mo (excluding the discount for bundled cable TV). But I'm also getting 99.9% "+" 99.9% uptime (really "*", for 99.9999%), which is about 30s downtime per year. That's about par (in the other direction) for managed datacenters with fibers, on a $:GB:mo rate, and I'm in my home. If I could get my home WAN(s) to work at that rate bidirectionally, and dropped the extra TV signal from the cable, I might even compete with the datacenter hosting.
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:26AM (#10139284) Homepage Journal
    "the media" doesn't have ANY SORT of Internet Envy, though I'll agree that they do have Broadband Envy. If "the media" knew how to truly define and differentiate the Internet, they'd do everything in their power to shut it down. Oops, they already are.

    Make no mistake, what "the media" wants out of the Internet is an on-demand distribution channel, and NOTHING more. A little trickle, upstream, and a firehose downstream. Anything else enables NASTY stuff like peer-to-peer and other "uncontrolled publication." Isn't the phrase "uncontrolled publication" what the ??AA problems are really all about?
  • Have Cake, Eat It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:29AM (#10139330) Homepage
    the media has apparently developed a nasty case of broadband envy.

    So we spend the past 6 or 7 years creating laws that make running an ISP a legal and regulatory minefield, other laws that reduce the consumer value of having broadband, and create an environment in which incumbent telecoms are encouraged to kill competition and cook the books, then we scratch our heads and wonder why we don't have a better information infrastructure. Well, gee, I just can't figure it out.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @11:45AM (#10139589) Homepage
    ...admitting we're second rate in anything. We're always right, and if not we're definitely dogmatic as hell about being wrong.

    We're in danger of becoming a technology backwater, not because of slower broadband, but because we're not investing in technology infrastructure, technology and science eductation and we're shipping intellectual capital in the form of tech jobs overseas to save that precious shareholder value.

    Unlikely we'll ever face up to being second in anything. For some reason we've developed a national concensous that our crap doesn't stink and if we're doing it, then that's the best thing to be doing. Even suggesting that we're not number one in damn all everything will likely get me mod'ed down because disagreement these days is tantamount to treason.

    Most of us grew up with notion that the US was the greatest country on the planet. It's not going to go down easy or well that such a notion might not be true anymore, in any capactity. Whether it's something litlle like broadband, or something bigger like health care, education, privacy or quality of life.

    • by Cryofan ( 194126 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @01:39PM (#10141013) Journal
      And you are right--we have a hard time admitting we are 2nd rate in anything. And there is a reason for that: we Americans have been subjected to decades of well-funded media propaganda, which has caused the vast majority of AMericans to suffer from this peculiar disease, which I cannot put a name to, but one symptom of it is the eternal calls to patriotism, and endless rhetoric about "the United States of America." We have manipulated for decades to think that America is so great, and thus we have given our consent to all sorts of foreign wars and foreign policy skullduggery.

      This kind of manipulation still goes on here: most Americans are convinced America has the world's greatest medical case. Umm...no, it does not. Not for the average person.

      And we do not have the world's greatest broadband. Here in Houston, the country's 5th largest city, you can get 1M down, 250K up for the grand sum of $32/month.

      The reason why we have substandard broadband and substandard medical care is that our governmental structure was set up 200 years ago to reflect and maintain a SLAVE SOCIETY. They ran on slaves and indentured servants, and they built a Constitution to exploit the underclass. And they are still exploiting us.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:12PM (#10139944) Homepage
    The "broadband problem" is something created by CLECs looking for a better regulatory deal and politicians looking for an issue. It's not a real problem.

    First, in the US broadband passed modems last month. [websiteoptimization.com] The trend is steady and that number should pass 80% within two years.

    Second, because the US has free local calling, good line quality, and plenty of telco switch capacity, dialup works well in the US. In many countries, dialup involves per-minute costs, and you can't stay on all day. It the US, it's been flat-rate monthly for years. And dial-up is really cheap.

    Third, more people in the US have Internet access than buy books or subscribe to newspapers. The literate fraction of the population is already on line. If you can't read, even AOL isn't useful.

    What's the problem?

  • by Xeger ( 20906 ) <<slashdot> <at> <tracker.xeger.net>> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:35PM (#10140252) Homepage
    Yes, our telecomms companies are mired in the past, and don't understand that there is more money to be made from content than content delivery.

    Yes, we have a ridiculous regulatory structure that virtually guarantees the eventual extinction of DSL -- I know I, for one, won't shed a tear about this. The telephone companies of this nation have a decades-long legacy of sloth and profiteering; trying to starve and harass third-party DSL providers out of existence is just a continuation of their legacy. The sweet irony of it is: their aging copper is virtually useless in the face of newer broadband technologies, and while they were busy crushing their "partners," they missed the narrow window of opportunity for any profit whatsoever. Now, they are forced to sit on the sidelines and provide POTS to Grandma while licking their chops and gazing dolefully at the cash cows of the broadband revolution. </rant>

    Yes, the use of the Internet in the US has been almost solely reserved for the technological and educational "haves" in this country, leaving the "have nots" by the wayside -- though this is changing.

    The single biggest reason we lag behind other nations in broadband deployment, however, is sheer scale.

    The United States has 93 TIMES (9300%) the surface area of South Korea, and 22 times the surface area of Sweden. As the third most populous nation on earth, we have almost 300,000,000 people living within our borders. Our national POTS telecomms infrastructure is the oldest and most complex on Earth.

    Broadband penetration to US households in 2001 was around 7%. I am frankly amazed at the progress we've made in the past three years. The nation's major population centers -- the west and east coasts, and the Great Lakes region -- are entirely wired for both DSL and cable modem, and we're working on deploying those technologies (and more exciting, newer alternatives) to the less populous interior of our nation.

    All things considered, I'd say we're doing a good job.
  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `vdalived'> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @12:47PM (#10140387) Homepage
    The US is falling being, or screwing themselves for many reasons. The country is only #1 any more in making money. However, we continue to think we are so great, and then make excuses when someone else does well at something. Take this excerpt from the article:

    As most will note, there's a big difference between wiring a compact South Korean urban sprawl, and draping fiber across the Rocky Mountains and into the rural communities of the plain states. A more just comparison would likely be Canada, but wait: they're not only offering faster speeds than American providers, but consumers pay less, and Canada rivals South Korea when it comes to broadband penetration.

    A lot of simplistic thinkers will rationalize and compare South Korea to the US and make excuses. However, they will fail to notice someone like Canada who is doing nearly as well as Korea.

    People take the same tack with gun violence in the US. We make excuses and comparisons with other countries, and then we miss the countries who provide better examples. For example, many countries in Europe have pretty strict gun control and very few gun related deaths, far fewer per capita than the US. We'd come up with excuses for that, but an even better logician would point out canada, who's laws aren't as strict, and who have a lot of guns as well. However they too have very few gun related deaths. Why? There's another reason, but that's not my point.

    The point is that people will see one comparison and rationalize it. I've found for Pro-US were #1 chanters, I find making multiple comparisons often shuts them up.

    And I am an american citizen, and I'm not satisfied with the state of broadband or guns or a whole lot of other shit in this country.
  • by Allnighterking ( 74212 ) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @01:45PM (#10141088) Homepage
    Having lived in South Korea, and having lived here in the US. (Yeah I'm home again Yippee!) The reason for the difference is this. Attitude. I worked for a company for a long time that sold real time video feeds (Not p0rn ok!) for simulcasting events. When we had to deal with Korean bandwidth sellers they saw it and said "OOO this uses lot's of badwidth... we can sell more!" When we talked with US Bandwidth sellers they would say. "No this uses too much bandwidth we'll have to buy more." Canada which is a lot more spread out than the US (in terms of population) has better bandwidth penetration than the US. I live in the Silly Con valley and let me tell you it is one of the worst places in the world to ensure having good bandwidth. I've a friend who lives literally across the street from his DCO, yet can't get DSL because "The lines on his street are too old" and SBC refuses to upgrade. He'd get cable... as soon as his neighborhood is wired (Funny thing is he can get cable TV but the local provider doesn't do the net.) The solution turns out to be connecting to the house behind him which can get DSL and sharing the line via a really long wire. (BTW they are trying to figure out a secure, and reliable, wireless connection. The word secure being the key word.)

    It really comes down to attitude. In the US they want to sell you bandwidth but don't want you to use it. If you use it they will send out a tech to cap your line. In Korea they want to sell you bandwidth and if you use it, they will send out a salesman to sell you a bigger pipe.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears