Internet Speed in U.S. is at the back of the pack

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Tell me something I don’t already know…we are repeating the same mistakes that we did with cell phone service; multiple technologies fighting it out in the cities, lack of access in the countryside, service that is way too expensive and speeds that are dismal.

TOKYO — Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it.

Broadband service here is eight to 30 times as fast as in the United States — and considerably cheaper. Japan has the world’s fastest Internet connections, delivering more data at a lower cost than anywhere else, recent studies show.

Accelerating broadband speed in this country — as well as in South Korea and much of Europe — is pushing open doors to Internet innovation that are likely to remain closed for years to come in much of the United States.

And why is this the case? The Bush administration always favors companies over consumers and customers, even if consumer-friendly policies would ultimately create a market exponentially larger than what we end up with all the regulation in place which favors (and is written by) the old-line communication companies.

[In Japan…]For just $2 a month, upstart broadband companies were allowed to rent bandwidth on an NTT copper wire connected to a Japanese home. Low rent allowed them to charge low prices to consumers — as little as $22 a month for a DSL connection faster than almost all U.S. broadband services.

In the United States, a similar kind of competitive access to phone company lines was strongly endorsed by Congress in a 1996 telecommunications law. But the federal push fizzled in 2003 and 2004, when the Federal Communications Commission and a federal court ruled that major companies do not have to share phone or fiber lines with competitors. The Bush administration did not appeal the court ruling.

“The Bush administration largely turned its back on the Internet, so we have just drifted downwards,” said Thomas Bleha, a former U.S. diplomat who served in Japan and is writing a history of how that country trumped the United States in broadband.

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