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We're Number 9! US Broadband Speeds Rise, But Slower Than Many Other Countries'

timothy posted 1 year,8 days | from the because-public-utilities-are-always-awesome dept.

The Internet 355

curtwoodward writes "The United States of America: The greatest country in the world, the last superpower, born of divine providence. Unless you're trying to connect to the Internet. The latest State of the Internet Report from network optimization company Akamai shows that the US has slipped in the global rankings of average connection speed, despite nearly 30 percent of yearly growth. That puts ol' Uncle Sam behind such economic powerhouses as Latvia and the Czech Republic. Oh, and we pay more, too. Is it finally time to shake up the ISP market and make Internet connections a public utility, on par with electricity and water? Or will edge projects like Google Fiber make a dent soon?" For those who favor the idea of Internet service as a government-run utility, what do you see as the best-case scenario for such a system?

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Vemont's Rating (1)

charles05663 (675485) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362105)

The high rating is probably due to VTel's Gigabit service.

Re:Vemont's Rating, Ruined By Shentel (1)

some old guy (674482) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362171)

No doubt offset by Shentel's blazing-fast 500kb/s DSL.

Re:Vemont's Rating, Ruined By Shentel (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362255)

Wow, any faster and the whole state might light on fire.

US Post Office (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362129)

That's your best case scenario.

TVA (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362501)

Alternatively, best case could be TVA which is more or less self sufficient, well loved by most people it serves, and provided a nearly unimaginable prosperity boost to a region that was behind the times and lacked the resources to catch up.

My rating... (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362139)

Is very slow because AT&T doesn't see any reason to invest. They're already getting money. Now, if Google came to town, they might see things differently. I'm only a couple blocks from the switch, but the wire is 1970s copper.

Re:My rating... (1, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362263)

Personally I think over regulation is the problem. Wired agrees:

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/07/we-need-to-stop-focusing-on-just-cable-companies-and-blame-local-government-for-dismal-broadband-competition/ [wired.com]

Google (or somebody like them) would be more likely to come if it weren't so hard to.

Re:My rating... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362323)

Given the authors of that article, I would be wary to take it on face value.

Re:My rating... (2)

redmid17 (1217076) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362329)

Very much so. The geographic monopolies (and probably collusion) are killing broadband internet competition in the US. More Google access the better in my opinion

Re:My rating... (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362395)

What a dumb article. It's the cable companies and telecoms that asked for the municipal monopolies. So we aren't supposed to blame them for the very monopolies they asked for?

Re:My rating... (1)

jbolden (176878) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362593)

The cable TV companies did not create local governments setting policy for municipal utility services. That's how things are done in America.

Re:My rating... (3, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362647)

So the local government forced them to lobby for the municipal monopolies? They only exist because of the actions of the cable companies and telecos basically demanding that they be created or else they weren't going to provide the city with service. To then act like they are entirely complicit in creation of such monopolies is to insult everyone's intelligence.

Re:My rating... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362651)

That should be "act like they aren't entirely complicit".

Re:My rating... (1)

jbolden (176878) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362761)

So the local government forced them to lobby for the municipal monopolies?

Sort of. Given the way you are phrasing things I think you are making assumptions that are false. Local governments regulate the sorts of activities cable companies need to engage in, like digging up land to lay cable. Once you decide to dig up land and lay cable you do so under the rules of a utility. The structure of utilities in most places was a government monopoly, where the government oversees pricing and at the same time the utility has protections against competition. That reduces the civil disruption. There wasn't any lobbying required. This was the structure in place before they started.

As for insulting everyone's intelligence. Government utility regulation in the US dates back decades before cable. Unless you are claiming they own time machines, no they had nothing to do with it. That's not to say they may not like the system in some ways while disliking it in others, but they are not the cause.

Re:My rating... (2)

countach74 (2484150) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362765)

Of course the telco's want monopolies. The problem isn't that or even the threats of not doing business there, the problem is that the government grants monopolies. If that weren't true, there would be no reason for large corporations to lobby for them. You have to expect companies to do everything they can to stay in a position of market dominance: it would be foolish to expect them to not look after "their best interest." Blame the system, not those who operate in it.

Re:My rating... (1)

stox (131684) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362429)

AT&T managed to change that in Illinois. They got their U-verse granted on the state level bypassing the local authorities.

Re:My rating... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362549)

The same AT&T that lobbies against cheaper municipal systems that would compete against their outrageously priced service? Oh what saints they are!!

Re:My rating... (5, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362485)

Sorry, but that is BS...

"In return, Kansas City got a fiber network it couldn’t possibly afford to build on its own — or maintain. Municipalities like Provo, Utah that thought they could afford to build their own public fiber network found they couldn’t afford to run it. That’s why Provo, Utah sold their fiber network to Google for just $1."

Ok, so the tax payer funds it, and then gives it to somebody else to run for one dollar! Yeah that is the problem! Wow, if we all just did that, fund the thing we want and then give it for free to some private enterprise! Sounds like a bargain to me!

While local government has a role to play, no doubt there, having one company after another dig up the same piece of ground is actually quite silly! Here in Switzerland where we are ranked pretty high the solution has been to allow access to the underlying networks. Competition here is the ability of a competitor to have access to the fiber, or wire that another company has put into the ground. Force the AT&T's to allow anybody to use their pipes for a reasonable fee and very quickly you will get higher speeds and lower costs.

Re:My rating... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362555)

Provo probably can't afford to run their own fiber network because the NSA data center next door is stealing bandwidth.

Big Companies Oppressing America (5, Interesting)

SpaceManFlip (2720507) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362533)

AT&T and Verizon are both working to keep broadband out of people's hands, because they see more money in their shitty expensive "4G" wireless service.

I have a perfect example: I live a half-mile from a major Internet fibre line, which AT&T owns the hardware to access, and I have a max available 3Mb DSL as the only choice for Internet. One of my neighbors would love to get on the same shitty "broadband" that I pay for, but AT&T told him "there are no more ports available" in our area, after multiple attempts to get through to someone with real answers. Same story about copper going away etc.

Taxpayers actually paid for that Internet fibre run that runs nearby, and AT&T somehow keeps anyone from accessing it with their Congress-owning money powers. Fuck those evil bastards.

Re:Big Companies Oppressing America (1)

jbolden (176878) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362611)

There is no more port available sounds like a good excuse.

If your locality wants to step up to the plate and guarantee revenue there will be more port. Get 100 of your neighbors who agree with you and go to a town council meeting to propose a guarantee.

Re:My rating... (-1, Troll)

Falco54 (2613309) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362585)

What!?! Someone implying the government could be part of the problem and not the solution? -1!

Re:My rating... (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362687)

No one has downmodded them. Go play the victim card elsewhere.

Oh and the big cable companies being defended in that article basically demanded that the municipal monopolies be created or they wouldn't provide service. They are not saints or innocent. They are complicit in what happened.

Re:My rating... (4, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362703)

Personally I think over regulation is the problem. Wired agrees:

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/07/we-need-to-stop-focusing-on-just-cable-companies-and-blame-local-government-for-dismal-broadband-competition/ [wired.com]

Google (or somebody like them) would be more likely to come if it weren't so hard to.

Completely wrong. Even if all the regulations were changed, even if they were completely eliminated, we would still be in the same situation we are today. The person who wrote that article demonstrates that they have no understanding of the issue when they say:

Deploying broadband infrastructure isn’t as simple as merely laying wires underground: that’s the easy part.

Running wire to every home in the country is difficult, expensive (even without all the regulations) and very time consuming. That's why Verizon abandoned their rollout of fiber and why Google will do the same after they connect a couple of cities.

Running all new wiring is a waste of time and money when we already have the infrastructure in place to give people decent speed. If I wanted, I could get 50Mbps from my local cable company. It's not fiber speed but its fast enough for me - and most everyone else. But it's ridiculously expensive, and, it's rendered worthless by monthly bandwidth caps. We know what the problem is -- lack of competition. But having a dozen different companies all running their own wires all over the place is neither practical nor desirable.

We've already wired the entire country. Twice. Running more wires is not the answer. Until we break the broadband monopoly and force the existing companies to open up their networks this problem will remain and everyone reading Slashdot today will be dead and gone long before Google or anyone else wires the entire country with fiber.

Just like the train problem (1)

avandesande (143899) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362489)

I don't think it is as simple as that- getting the same penetration over a large area costs a lot more in the US because of our geography.

Re:My rating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362557)

... the wire is 1970s copper.

Don't you hate that! Big lapels, polyester, orange and brown colors, ....

Then again, the 90s era fiber - Seattle grunge - plaid, black, .....

Makes me appreciate the European clean white and natural wood look.

Eff yeaahh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362145)

TL:DR

America's awesome. But not really.

Re:Eff yeaahh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362257)

The United States of America: The greatest country in the world, the last superpower, born of divine providence.

Unless you escaped from being indoctrinated with patriotism.

Q&A (0, Flamebait)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362153)

For those who favor the idea of Internet service as a government-run utility, what do you see as the best-case scenario for such a system?

Pretty much what we have now. The NSA spending billions to monitor every aspect of it, something we can be quite sure doesn't slow down or impair internet traffic in any way... while funding to improve it is delayed, debated in committee, or rejected because "there's not sufficient demand for it." Plus the national security argument that upgrading our internet would make us vulnerable to cyber attack because it would require more resources to monitor it. *cough* Oh, and everything would be criminalized. Wait... it already is. And who supplied all that tech to Iran, China, etc., for their censorship programs?

That's the government for you; An epic cluster fuck you wind up paying through the nose for. I prefer to stick with private ownership, thank you very much... it's an epic cluster fuck I wind up paying through the nose for but I have my choice on how to be screwed.

Re:Q&A (0)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362559)

The problem is that with all the government regulation in place now the government actually is running it but through extremely expensive middle men who cripple it even more. At least if it became a public utility we could get greedy cocksuckers like AT&T and their buddies out of the loop.

Re:Q&A (5, Insightful)

deanklear (2529024) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362705)

That's the government for you; An epic cluster fuck you wind up paying through the nose for. I prefer to stick with private ownership, thank you very much... it's an epic cluster fuck I wind up paying through the nose for but I have my choice on how to be screwed.

The fatal flaw of all of the libertarian nonsense is that the failure or corruption of certain governments can only be replaced with privatization. The correct answer to ineffective government is effective government. Let me provide you with a concrete example:

In Washington State, in areas where fiber is provided by the state, I can get a 100x100 connection for $59 per month. No contract. From a private entity. How is that possible?

Multiple private organizations, who have an incentive to screw each other over and no incentive to work together to cover different neighborhoods, cannot provide the best plan for modern infrastructure. Even in the face of overpriced (point given: has to be relatively non-corrupt) government costs, it's still cheaper because there is no marketing department, legal department, or endless stratification of middle managers doing fuck-all in a building somewhere. Rent-seeking necessary infrastructure services don't work well with privatization, because they have the upper hand on pricing and will stuff their organization with so much bloat it would make a bureaucrat blush. When it's a government entity, there is at least some chance of oversight and cost control. When it's privatized, the inefficiency and price hikes are all but inevitable, unless there is real competition.

In modern societies the basic physical plants are installed and run by the government and funded through equitable taxation. A similar analogy is that of the road system: multiple private roads would never work, because you couldn't depend on the pricing or the availability, depending on whatever juvenile contract disputes the private corporations were engaged in at the moment. But when those costs are socialized and the infrastructure is available to all responsible parties at a low cost, you can have true competition on common infrastructure.

Let's say I want to ship something: I have an address, provided by the state, a road provided by the state that will absolutely connect me to any other address also provided by the state. So I can choose between Fedex, DHL, UPS, or even a startup like uShip. Imagine if you had a fiber connection to your home, which would cost you less in taxes than you pay for coffee every month, which was available to Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc. They're going to listen to customer demands, because there's actually a chance you might switch. Right now I have no choice but to deal with Comcast's endless bullshit, because I don't have any other choices available. They happen to be the provider to my location.

So, keep the libertarian fantasy going. Dog-ear that copy of Atlas Shrugged for the nth time. When you're ready to discuss solutions, consider reality.

PS: Google, Microsoft, Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T have all gladly handed over your data to the government. Being held by private corporations didn't change a damn thing, did it?

It's about competition (5, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362161)

I'm in one of the areas that is served by both cable and FIOS, and my service is nothing like the average 8 or so.

I'm on Cablevison, which recently bumped their Boost tier to 120 Mbps down and 37 up. This tier is only $5 a month more than the base tier.

There are no caps either.

The main thing you need is to get rid of the competitive restraints. No franchises please!

Re:It's about competition (3, Insightful)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362311)

Meanwhile the same Verizon is abandoning copper lines and refuses to run fiber in its place. In many areas this is a ploy to get those folks onto cable internet, who Verizon recently made a deal with to get some wireless spectrum, but some areas don't even have the cable option. Talk about progress. Places in a country that once boasted the most reliable wireline network in the world now have zip outside of an overpriced wireless service.

Re:It's about competition (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362437)

There is only one place that I know of doing that, and it is Fire Island, and it is being done in a very experimental way (watched closely by the utilities board). It is conceivable that certain areas - such as coastal or rural - could be better served by wireless than by copper. I don't have a problem with such experimentation, so long as the standards are kept up.

Re:It's about competition (1)

jbolden (176878) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362649)

Verizon LECs abandon copperlines.... Running the PSTN is extremely expensive. Business has been slashing their phone usage for decades. It isn't profitable to maintain that infrastructure anymore. If the local people want those services they could buy the LEC and run it as a town service at a loss or pay a subsidy.

Re:It's about competition (1)

Solandri (704621) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362367)

Exactly. My business is in an area where Verizon DSL is your only option. None of the cable companies service the area since it's a business district. Verizon charges $40/mo for 1 Mbps down / 128 kbps up, $50/mo for 1.5 Mbps down / 384 kbps up, and $90/mo for 3 Mbps down / 1 Mbps up. Add $10/mo if you sign up month-to-month instead of a 2 year contract. Half the lines can't even get the 3 Mbps because they're too far from the CO and Verizon doesn't want to bother installing a closer one.

Re:It's about competition (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362463)

In my neighborhood, Comcast gives my across-the-street neighbors a better price than me because they have FIOS available and I do not.

Re:It's about competition (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362399)

Hey, I know my BILL has increased 30% (from $100/mo to $125).

Thanks, Comcast!

Re:It's about competition (1)

dcw3 (649211) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362477)

I'm hoping that this was an attempt at humor. A 30% increase on $100 is how much?

Re:It's about competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362527)

Hey, I know my BILL has increased 30% (from $100/mo to $125).

Thanks, Comcast!

For small values of 30%.

Didn't I just read this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362169)

a month ago?

We? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362177)

Insensitive clod!

best case (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362181)

best case: prices will only double, speed will only half

There is no best-case scenario (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362187)

Our government is owned and operated by the big corporations... Let the flame-fest begin.

Speed? Access! (2)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362195)

Speed? Screw speed! I live in a relatively populated area in North Carolina. AT&T won't give me high speed. The cable company won't run lines .2 miles into my subdivision. I have a 4G verizon antenna on the side of my house that I use to pay $70 a month for a 10 GB data cap.

This is holding back growth on the net. If I had real access and real bandwidth, I would be creating and consuming a lot more Internet content, and spending money in the process.

And pay even more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362201)

I'm outside any metro, but in a small town that is home to a rural carrier that has decent tech. They have FttH in some areas but not mine. Semi reliable 5 Mbps DSL costs $50 a month .... but you MUST take a phone line too at a minimum $24 and change. Being that cell & Ooma VoIP are my phones, this simply means that 5 Mbps DSL costs me $75 a month.

Re:And pay even more. (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362387)

My phone company allows you to not have a phone, but the phone+dsl bundle is equal to just DSL. I still save money by not having to pay all the fees - 911, remote service surcharge(to to give me service, but to give service to people in the boonies), taxes, etc...

Not touching the cable company with a 10ft pole - they have download limits and charge for extra bandwidth at rates that it's cheaper for me to go with DSL despite the lower overall speeds.

This whole post (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362217)

I hope the whole "The greatest country in the world" is supposed to be sarcastic.

Re:This whole post (1)

Wintermute__ (22920) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362759)

I hope the whole "The greatest country in the world" is supposed to be sarcastic.

It's called irony, and it serves to underscore the point that the author is making.

How are they measuring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362219)

If they're measuring by average AVAILABLE connection speeds, then fine. But if they're using average connection speeds that people are using, that metric is skewed as most people use "slower" connections than they can afford because they don't need much.

In either case....who cares?

What with all the news lately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362237)

...I thought my ISP already was a government-run utility.

Re:What with all the news lately... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362309)

...and you get to pay for it twice: Once in your monthly bill and secondly in your taxes to support the NSA backup service.

Re:What with all the news lately... (2)

Sique (173459) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362379)

This reminds me of a phone call an Austrian comedian made to the U.S. embassy when the Snowden papers started to appear. He told them that the pictures he took from the brother's wedding two years ago got lost when the hard drive died, and he asked if the NSA can just provide him with their backup.

Government-run Utility (2)

Krazy Kanuck (1612777) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362241)

"For those who favor the idea of Internet service as a government-run utility, what do you see as the best-case scenario for such a system?"

I'm not sure there are too many in favor of that idea anymore (recent privacy issues, corp lobbying). There would need to be an unprecedented amount net neutrality and transparency involved; which we've been promised but received little of in other government projects.

Re:Government-run Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362363)

And you get more privacy and transparency from private providers?

nah ah (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362247)

Making it a government-controlled utility would give them a darn good excuse to spy and filter even more.

Say no to Utilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362275)

Just what we need, a government run monopoly to "help" the people. Making the internet a public utility will see worse service and higher prices for all involved.

Re:Say no to Utilities (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362465)

Oh really? [slashdot.org]

We do have good Internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362277)

The people who need good internet, have it. Most in major metropolitan areas have up to 100Mbps speeds available to them via Cable or Fiber, if not at least 25Mbps via something like VDSL.

How long are we going to keep counting people who live way out in the sticks, by choice, and pretending that skewing the average like that results in meaningful information?

NSA is the bottleneck (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362281)

The problem is that the user speeds need to be throttled to something that the NSA recording can keep up with.

Definitely some merit to a government option (1)

redmid17 (1217076) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362303)

I wouldn't mind seeing the lines government owned and then access leased out to ISPs for a price. Private ISPs should still be an option though. I don't want a BT-like situation where the government entity can dictate policy to private companies when it's unpopular and unconstitutional (ie ban on porn).

What does peeve me, though, is when idiotic comparisons are made to countries like Latvia or Czech Republic, which are smaller than most US states and have comparatively much higher population density. There are only a few countries in the world that can really be compares to the US (Canada and Russia come to mind) because of a combination of size and total population. The internet subscription selection in the US sucks in most places and the telcos should owe the US govt about $200 billion from the ill-advised Telecommunications Act of 1996 (http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070810_002683.html), but the speeds are high where the population density is greater than one human per square mile.

Stupid summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362321)

Last time I checked Latvia and the Czech Republic have around 1/5th the area of the US and have 1/150th and 1/30th the population size respectively. That tends to make laying the infrastructure for broadband much easier and cheaper.

Re:Stupid summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362365)

First figure should to be 1/140th the area of the US not 1/5th.

lt and cz are small; us is big (5, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362333)

See subject. Of course compact nations are going to have better connectivity than sprawling ones.

I don't often cheerlead the US, but it's impressive that they're in the top ten. Sweden only just pipped them, and it tries awesomely hard to provide its citizens with good 'net access.

Re:lt and cz are small; us is big (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362615)

Speaking of sprawling nations, Sweden has half the population density of the US.

Government efficiency (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362337)

As a socialism-loving liberal, I have to say that I find the idea of an ISP utility ludicrous at best.

Social services are appropriate where there is an absolute goal. We don't want houses on fire, we don't want criminals running around uncaught, and we don't want roads to decay, just because such services are unprofitable. Civilization has an absolute need for those civil services. However, we don't need fast Internet connectivity... Yes, maybe some cities will get government-built fiber downtown, but the rest of the state will be too busy fighting politics to actually improve any infrastructure. We'll mostly just be stuck with whatever minimum service the politicians find acceptable, and the infrastructure budget will go toward filling the requisite layers of bureaucrats.

On the other hand, ISPs have a clear business incentive to improve their speed and capacity (not that they've been actually doing so). By being faster, they can claim an edge over their competitor in a market. Unfortunately, we seem to have hit an impasse where the only options in a region are "crappy cable" or "crappy DSL", thanks to government-granted monopolies in communities.

So why not both? I say we void all community monopoly agreements, and require private ISPs to provide fixed-bandwidth service to a government ISP. The government ISP can be a fallback. If my community's ISP options are too slow or too expensive, I can instead pay some standard rate for government service, which would go over the ISP's lines anyway. The local ISP still has to carry my traffic, but they don't get my money. The downside is that I'm stuck with whatever basic service the government decides is suitable.

Re:Government efficiency (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362525)

too busy fighting politics to actually improve any infrastructure

"misappropriation of tax dollars" would be a more accurate way of describing the measly end results of infrastructure improvements.

Re:Government efficiency (1)

GodInHell (258915) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362601)

While also a fairly liberal guy, I agree that the idea of a government run network is ... not good. The problem we have here is that there is so little incentive to build out a bigger network that the minimum needed to keep the customers from leaving. The U.S. is too large to do a japanese style 2 or 3 year rollout of a new technology - only a very few companies (comcast and ATT basically) can compete across the nation - the rest, even verizon, are left to pick their markets. That's BEFORE any local municipalities fall for the concept of a contractual monopoly. Here's an idea -- don't take the cable company's money for a monopoly, just TAX the SERVICE. Boom -- you get your money AND you don't give up your citizen's rights. Crazy idea, I know.

Unrelated -- but there should also be a federal ban on tax incentive plans, which are used to lure corporations from one state to another - it interferes with interstate commerce and is beggaring the states.

Re:Government efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362633)

As a socialism-loving liberal [...]

hmm... as a Greek i feel like "lost in translation" again, so... are you a sosialist or a liberal?
(damn USA - stop messing up with the definitions please!)

Re:Government efficiency (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362645)

"The downside is that I'm stuck with whatever basic service the government decides is suitable."

And there is the problem with any and all government intervention/rules/regulations/etc. There will be someone (or group of someones) who will be pulling the strings of the government to suit their business/personal interests. Then you will be held accountable (threatened) by an enforced law. On the flip-side, no govt intervention could and does mean, you get one choice. Lump it or leave it.

Somewhere, someday, there will be a balance of govt to business actions. But probably not in my lifetime.

Re:Government efficiency (1)

nine-times (778537) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362671)

However, we don't need fast Internet connectivity... Yes, maybe some cities will get government-built fiber downtown, but the rest of the state will be too busy fighting politics to actually improve any infrastructure.

This logic could be used to claim that we shouldn't treat water, electricity, or sewage as utilities. We don't *need* any of those things, in the strict hunter/gatherer sense.

On the other hand, ISPs have a clear business incentive to improve their speed and capacity.

They also have clear disincentives.

By being faster, they can claim an edge over their competitor in a market.

What competitor?

I say we void all community monopoly agreements

Well there is a bit of a problem in that we can't have people running around digging things up, running cable wherever they want willy-nilly. There's going to have to be some control, which means there won't be real competition. Infrastructure does not do well in the "free market".

and require private ISPs to provide fixed-bandwidth service to a government ISP. The government ISP can be a fallback.

Yeah, I'm sure that will work. Conservatives love having a "public option".

Re:Government efficiency (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362751)

I don't know for the US, but in Canada (Montreal) we have at least two ISPs in any region (Telco and Cableco). But since they also own TV stations and Media, they aren't really pushing for bandwidth and/or higher caps. (Bell & Videotron). I don't mind the speed, altough I'd like it to be faster, but the caps are preventing people from using alternate sources for shows and movies (ie: Netflix). They're not really competing on either speed, quota or price. Either on tv, cellular, internet access or even phone service. Why should they? it's not like they have real competition. Kinda like the oil companies.

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Size matters (1)

Trimaxion (2933647) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362369)

Look, I hate the local telco/cable monopoly as much as anyone. I live in the suburbs of Orlando, FL and only have one provider that can offer me truly high speed service at my house. My cable options are 20/1, 30/2, 60/5, and 90/10, all from Brighthouse Networks, and the 30/2 costs $70ish a month for just the internet connection. I wish I had more options because it would likely lead to lower prices. These guys have no real competition here. Unfortunately, Verizon stopped their FIOS buildout and have no plans to move east toward my area.

That said, I think the article is misleading. The United States is big. Some of the countries on this list are the size of some U.S. states. When you're pulling cable, size and density matter.

I'd like to see some better stats beyond a country-wide average. In areas of the US with population densities similar to those in the other countries on the list, how does the US fare? How does the service in our major cities and metro areas compare to theirs? How do our rural areas compare to theirs?

Re:Size matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362657)

I'd like to see some better stats beyond a country-wide average. In areas of the US with population densities similar to those in the other countries on the list, how does the US fare?

Terribly, I imagine. Since e.g. Sweden has half the population density of the US, it should be compared to parts of the US that are less densely populated than the US average.

Rights of way (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362397)

Don't make ISPs a utility, make conduit a utility and throw out all the local government granted monopolies. Conduit should be put down any time the road is torn up, anyone should be able to lease space in the conduit to run whatever they want through it. New cable company wants to move in? They lease spot in the conduit. Google wants to install fiber to the home? They lease a spot. Alternatively the same could be done directly with fiber, the city puts it in and leases bandwidth to 3rd parties, but that doesn't seem as flexible to me.

Government as your ISP (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362421)

Pros:
1. Nothing can enforce a standard quite like the law.
2. No "ulterior" profit motive means bandwidth and routing for dumb pipes. Net neutrality eat your heart out.
3. No more peering arguments.
4. Rural communities get high speed internet connections no matter how much it costs.
5. Government can operate on the assumption that all of its citizens have internet connections. (Internet voting, transparent government initiatives, etc.)
6. People who cannot afford internet access will finally receive it.

Cons:
1. At the mercy of politicians who have no idea what ISPs do and could honestly care less. Congress is a study in "that's a great idea, now how can I screw it up in a way that makes people who voted for me the most money?"
2. Filtering and other legal pursuits. See #1. The RIAA would love having the government in charge of your internet connection.
3. Connectivity issues. See #1. The internet would snap in half every time a country decides it doesn't like yours.
4. Poor quality. The government won't do this itself, it will sell the opportunity to the lowest bidder, who will proceed to screw it up in a way that makes it even more expensive just to fix (which will go to the lowest bidder, and so on).
5. The expense of serving rural or under-privileged communities. Since the 1900s people who don't live in cities have been fighting to be recognized as full members of society without realizing how much they cost their neighbors.
6. Standards will change at a glacial pace. Internet technology has a shelf life of less than two years.

I'm just going to conveniently leave out the whole NSA thing, which would happen no matter who is in charge of your internet connection.

Population Density (1)

Monty845 (739787) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362441)

Look at the population density, it is a lot easier to provide services like high quality broadband to a dense population. South Korea - 1,303/sq mi Japan - 873/sq mi Hong Kong - 16,876/sq mi Switzerland - 505/sq mi Netherlands - 1,287/sq mi Latvia - 80/sq mi Czech Republic - 344/sq mi Sweden - 60/sq mi United States - 89/sq mi Denmark - 337/sq mi Only Sweden and Latvia really out perform us without having several times higher population density.

Re:Population Density - VOTE PARENT UP! (1)

Ubeor (890283) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362599)

Thank you! Someone finally gets it! When comparing countries, people often forget how FRIGGIN HUGE the United States is, and how much of that is empty space. Piping broadband into the middle of a desert or corn field is not cheap. If you compare on a state-by-state basis, I'm sure the denser northeastern states would rank much higher on the list.

Re:Population Density (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362685)

I think you have managed to show that in the top 10 the broadband stats correlate very weakly with population density. You may need to search for other explanation models.

Best case scenario... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362447)

Something as good as the IRS, TSA or the Post Office. Oh boy.

How about MEDIAN rather than AVERAGE? (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362453)

Much like fuel mileage ratings on vehicles, we get a lot more benefit by getting people with the lowest numbers up to more reasonable numbers (eg., dial-up to 1Mbps DSL) than we do by giving a select few a very high speed connection to bring up the "average" speed, while many people suffer with dial-up speeds...

Perhaps it would be best to measure MEDIAN speeds, rather than AVERAGE. Or better yet, a percentage of people in the country with available speeds below XYZ.

And where does the whole EU rank? I'm sure if we broke the US down into individual states, some would come out higher than average as well, putting them ahead of most EU member nations. And there are clearly a number of EU member nations falling well behind the US average, which would bring the EU average down. The other comparable countries, like Russia, China, India, etc., all are far behind the US average. So even with these numbers, it doesn't look all that bad for the US.

Re:How about MEDIAN rather than AVERAGE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362739)

Remember: mean, median, mode, and others are types of averages.
I believe you are assuming that the article is referring to an arithmetic mean -- which is a fair assumption -- but the terms in your post are all wrong.

s/Government-run/Government-regulated/ (2)

PoochieReds (4973) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362457)

I don't think a government run utility would be better than what we have today, and would likely be worse. What would be better? What should have been done in the original 1996 laws:

        Force the telcos and cable companies to break up.

Really, it's as simple as that...

The main problem with the current situation is that there is near-zero competition. At best you have "competition" between two ILECs (cable and telco). In some cases they will "lease" their lines to competitors, but who wants to be in a business where you're the customer of your main competitor? That's guaranteed not to go well.

So in my "dream" solution...

Last-mile providers would be a regulated monopoly (duopoly I guess in the case where there is both twisted-pair and coax) that would just be in charge of the cabling and infrastructure between actual customers and the "central office". They would then lease the lines to "dialtone" (bandwidth?) providers at rates set by the local public utility commission, but would be barred from providing any content on those lines.

That would set up the situation such that multiple companies could compete based on the services that they could provide to customers and price.

I'm not holding my breath for such an outbreak of sanity though... ;)

Very different from other measurements (1)

Kjella (173770) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362497)

As this measures the speed to Akamai's servers, the numbers are not comparable to other numbers. I found the numbers way too low, for example here in Norway it says broadband penetration (>4Mbps) is 50%, actual figures (and the numbers for this are very good, they're very hard on you delivering agreed speeds) is about 77%. I'm guessing the difference is people who use their Internet connection for other things while connecting to Akamai, if your connection is busy with other things and you only got 3Mbps to spare for Akami you'll be counted in the "slowband" category.

I'm a Google Fiber subscriber (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362513)

... and it's phenomenal. If they can start penetrating more markets, they can absolutely make a dent in the status quo.

Bullshit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362529)

The United States of America: The greatest country in the world, the last superpower, born of divine providence

If you guys believe any of this shit, you're more delusional than we've feared.

Divine fucking providence my fucking ass. That Americans continue to believe that god himself blessed America tells me that as a group you're a bunch of morons.

LESS government, NOT more! (1, Insightful)

Paleolibertarian (930578) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362551)

Hasn't the government caused enough problems with granting monopolies to telecom companies. The whole industry needs to be totally deregulated. With deregulation comes competition and with competition comes better service and lower prices. The total over-regulation of telecom is the reason we have such lackluster service and higher costs. Telecom companies who have limited competition don't fear raising prices and don't need to improve service in order to attract new customers. Costs to business can be prohibitive. I still have clients that are still using ADSL (1.5 down and .5 up) because that's all they can get and that costs about $60/mo. Another has cable at 5/1 for $80/mo in a second office while the home office has decent cable from a different provider gets 50/4 which costs $200/mo and runs a VPN link between offices which is almost useless but at least they can get Terminal Services in the satellite office but the users complain a lot. Their only other choice is ADSL from AT&T which in a small town is only good for some light surfing and email assuming you have a lot of time.

Because governments limit the choices and regulate prices in a lot of cases we have crappy service. Can you imagine what it would be like if internet service were socialized? This country is already bankrupt. Can you imagine what a cluster f**k ObamaNet would be like? How about in Detroit?

Are you for real? Give me a break!

Remember, any government powerful enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take it all away!

Edwin

Re:LESS government, NOT more! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362729)

Hasn't the government caused enough problems with granting monopolies to telecom companies. The whole industry needs to be totally deregulated. With deregulation comes competition and with competition comes better service and lower prices.

Do you believe any of this shit?

Your free market is a myth, and every actor in it will try to game the system for their own ends and invalidate all of the assumptions about good information and available choices.

What utter bollocks. If you deregulated everything, people would be putting melamine into baby formula and dumping toxic waste into streams.

The standard Libertarian response is that people would be free to not buy contaminated baby formula or drink from contaminated streams -- and it mostly proves your pipe dream of economics is founded on bullshit and bad assumptions.

Are you for real? Give me a break!

Nothing you claim is provable as fact, and it is easy to find counter examples of how it simply won't work.

So either you believe this crap, or you're just parroting it.

But this entire philosophy on how economics works is false. In any other country in the world, Libertarians are considered crackpots on the topic of economics, and I see you're living up to your nick.

Salary caps (1)

zarmanto (884704) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362561)

First, I will preface my comment by saying that I am not actually in favor of government regulation of the internet... but if we were to actually go down that road, I would opine that the only step necessary to dramatically improve US broadband, would be to incorporate salary caps into the C- level positions at the existing telcos. If the money can't be siphoned up the chain to the bank account of those money-hungry CEOs, then it seems to me that the most likely places for all that cash to go would be a) back into the company, (as in, both the lower level employees and the infrastructure) or b) back to the customers and stockholders.

I mean, I'm all for a free market and the capitalistic system and all that... but good grief! Salaries at the top are positively obscene! [thinkprogress.org]

Personally.... (1)

nine-times (778537) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362565)

For those who favor the idea of Internet service as a government-run utility, what do you see as the best-case scenario for such a system?

Personally, I'd favor working on some kind of split responsibility. I've said this over and over again: part of our problem is that we have these large companies who are vertically integrated. You have a company like Comcast which builds the infrastructure, acts as the ISP, provides TV and VoIP service, online TV viewing services, and is also tied into the channels and content on their TV service. This creates some obvious opportunities for conflict of interest, e.g. Comcast might not be highly motivated to provide a high level of service for their Internet customers to access Netflix, since it competes with their TV offerings.

The potential for conflicts of interest are exacerbated by the fact that ISPs are generally either a monopoly or part of a duopoly. For example, Time Warner Cable is literally my only option for broadband Internet, unless I want to spend over $1,000/month. If TWC decided to block Netflix, I wouldn't really have an other competing option to switch to.

So my opinion has long been that there should be laws to control this effect by classifying the companies who own/build/maintain the infrastructure, and barring them from providing service over that infrastructure. My reasoning is that it often won't be practical to build many competing networks to every area that needs Internet, so competition between Internet infrastructure companies is unlikely. If you want to have a free market for Internet providers, there should be a relatively open/public network infrastructure created and maintained by an uninterested party (uninterested because they're barred from providing service over their own network).

To some degree, this is already happening. If you get an internet connection from a company like Speakeasy/Megapath or XO, they are actually providing internet access over Verizon's infrastructure. However, they are also competing with Verizon, who is also competing with (and colluding with) TWC, Comcast, and other vertically integrated providers. As a result, the only people who want faster Internet speeds are customers, who have no other option, and Netflix, who the ISPs would like to see fail.

Metrics (1)

jxander (2605655) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362569)

I do wonder how the metrics are gathered. Not much detail in TFA or the actual survey which is linked in TFA. (two levels of TFA deep, pretty sure the /. police are coming after me soon)

I'd wager that part of our "problem" is early adoption, combined with sheer size. I don't think many people in Prague were connected during the dial-up days. Earthlink probably doesn't have much of a foothold over there, even today. Here in the US, however, there are probably still hundreds of thousands of people connecting via phone lines which bring our average down. And so I wonder, if all of those dialup connections were hypothetically terminated would our average speed go down (56.6k is still better than 0) or would those non-connections drop off the radar, thus improving our standing?

This is compounded even further with mobile phones, explicitly not a part of this survey. If you want a mediocre internet connection these days, why even bother with dialup? Just get AT&T, or the Latvian equivalent.

Number 9 (2)

jbolden (176878) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362579)

I'm sorry. We have a country with almost all major services well behind the western world. We have a lower practical population density than most other countries because of suburban living. We come in 9 and you are throwing a fit. That's better than our bridges, our roads, our schools, our hospitals... I'm thrilled we ranked that high.

Peering? (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362589)

Maybe someone here can explain this --

Considering peering, your bandwidth consumption is basically free for your ISP if you stay within their network, right? Is it technically feasible for them to give you uncapped speeds for connections which never leave their network?

Look where it has been done (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362597)

There are some places that have municipal broadband providers. Take Cedar Falls, IA -- the municipal utility company there offers internet access:

http://www.cfu.net/

From my experience -- it is decent (but not significantly better), and doesn't really cost any less than a private provider. Customer support is about as crappy as everyone else.

As far as I can tell ... this #9 ranking is a worthless metric and the system in place appears to be reflecting user demand appropriately. Why fix it if it isn't broken.

How Much Is Enough (1)

dcw3 (649211) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362607)

While the numbers may be statistically insignificant, I suspect some folks don't have higher speeds by choice. Using my own area (Northern VA) as an example, we have choices of cable, FIOS, and satellite. My cable company offers several tiers of service. The basic home service I receive gives me ~25Mbps. There are several offerings at higher prices with more bandwidth (up to ~150). I have no need for more, and certainly don't want to pay more.

Its' Good to Share (1)

carrier lost (222597) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362637)

It's my understanding that it is a lack of competition in the broadband marketplace which is to blame for the slow pace of advancement. When so much of urban US is serviced by two (and in many places one) provider(s), there is not much incentive to improve access and service.

I also believe that if the FCC were to re-instate the line-sharing rules they scrapped years ago, it would go a long ways towards promoting competition which would lead to improvement.

Techdirt has tons of articles and stories about the subject:

http://www.techdirt.com/search-g.php?q=line+sharing [techdirt.com]

speed ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44362679)

or perhaps bandwidth.

We have other national priorities (1)

davidwr (791652) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362701)

The difference between an "average" of 8.6 and 10.9 isn't that big of a deal.

The "bigger deal" are the very high speed countries like Japan and South Korea and the underlying reasons for the gap in the United States.

Some things we can't control or wouldn't want to if we could: Less-dense populations, the fact that many customers are satisfied with the speeds they got during the "digital cable rollouts" and "DSL rollouts" of the early 2000s and don't want to pay more, the fact that many voters don't want to heavily subsidize communication beyond "the basics" with tax money, etc.

The take-aways from charts like this are:

* What are other countries doing that we COULD do?
* SHOULD we do those things?
* Does the voting/taxpaying public WANT to do those things and if not, SHOULD we honor that or should proponents of higher speed access try to change their hearts and minds?

I for one don't want to live in a city as dense as Tokyo or Seoul or force my 300M fellow Americans to do the same just so we can have 50+% faster possibly-cheaper Internet.

--

I bet if The Vatican wanted to, it could get uber-fast Internet to all the residents and offices and jump to the top of the list very quickly assuming there was a high-speed provider in the area. But I for one don't want to live in a teeny-tiny country.

Government glass yes (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | 1 year,8 days | (#44362735)

A monopoly on the physical plant make sense it's expensive to build etc etc etc. Build an all optical physical plant and you can then hand off CWDM connections. This can easily be layered upon middle men fanning out vlans over a single channel to make things even cheaper. Government can play a role as well deploying school, city, library, and baseline internet access. But in the end the point is to give a connection to anybody that asks for a defined fee. Soon you will see long haul carriers pop up connecting towns to local cities and local cities to larger ones lowering the barriers to entry. Businesses can connect remote offices and workers with high grade secure connections. Schools can embrace remote learning.

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