Jesse Drucker files this column in the Wall Street Journal about the U.S.'s pitiful broadband performance with private capital in charge: In France, $36 per month can buy you 20 Mbps download speeds, 100 channels of TV, and unlimited domestic Internet telephony. Drucker states--in what is sure to provoke an Opinion Page response--that strict rules to allow carriers to open up their lines to competitors is the reason.
Incumbent telcos and cable firms operate 93 percent of the U.S. broadband, which the FCC defines as 200 Kbps or higher in one direction. Ha!
There's no mention of George Gilder, massive telco fraud, and horrible investments in this column, but that might take entire books. The failure of broadband can be tied to the obsession in overbuilding fiber under the assumption that it would carry only slightly more data over time, and the telephone and cable companies terrible, sometimes allegedly illegal decisionmaking processes in the late 90s and early 2000s. They got distracted from their core businesses.
Drucker gives a zinger near the end of this column to anyone who wants to complain about the municipal networks being funded by taxpayer dollars, although few have any taxpayer money going towards buildout or operation: "Phone companies, for example, get billions of dollars in federal and state subsidies for rural service; they also have teams of lobbyists and attorneys to influence policy. As cities try to introduce competing wireless networks, traditional telecom providers lobby to restrict such plans."
Let's not forget those billions which extend far beyond rural service--that's just one piece of it. Folks who believe in not having competition from municipalities with incumbents forget that municipalities are directly and indirectly funding (through subsidies and tax breaks) those very entities.
The removal of tax revenue from entities is the same as spending taxpayer money--it goes to the entities' shareholders instead of into the pockets of local residents.
Nobody ever mentions that Asia and parts of Europe have fantastic broadband penetration because they are physically denser, and therefore it costs a LOT less to deploy broadband.
The United States is very unique in that it is a very large, very sparsely populated country. Capital required to deploy broadband in South Korea is a fraction of the cost per mbit of doing the same in the US.
That said, my company foreThought.net is rolling out 20MBps DSL in Denver.
[Editor's note: Even the densest cities in the U.S., however, are only just starting to see the beginnings of speeds that are typical in dense population centers in Asia and Europe.--gf]
The "density" theory doesn't explain Canada which is ahead of the US despite being very geographically spread out. I haven't seen specific info on urban/rural broadband penetration in Canada.