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Broadband Envy: Fixing American Broadband

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the you'll-dial-up-and-you'll-like-it dept.

The Internet 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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A concerted effort... (5, Insightful)

danielrm26 (567852) | about 10 years ago | (#10138538)

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.

Re:A concerted effort... (4, Interesting)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 10 years ago | (#10138559)

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.

Re:A concerted effort... (0)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10138605)

Someone mod this guy up. He's hit the nail on the head before I could. I hear of VERY few people in populated areas that don't have broadband available. Even many rural Midwest areas have broadband. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the US has a higher overall coverage than all of Asia combined. After all, the Chinese aren't crowded. They just don't use 90% of their land.

Re:A concerted effort... (2, Insightful)

brufleth (534234) | about 10 years ago | (#10138724)

I've lived in Boston and Cincinnati. I don't consider either of them rural although I suppose Cincinnati could be considered suburban. Neither of them have anything CLOSE to 100Mb connections available to consumers for a reasonable price. Commence fighting over what a resonable price is.

Re:A concerted effort... (1)

Above (100351) | about 10 years ago | (#10138796)

Where's the list of these "dozen's of places" so I can move there?

Re:A concerted effort... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 years ago | (#10138585)

it's quite bs, if countries(even if smaller in total) with less people per squaremile manage to do it(i'm pretty sure all the complaints about shitty broadband availability aren't coming from alaska too).

(same goes for proper gsm networks)

Re:A concerted effort... (5, Funny)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 10 years ago | (#10138617)

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.

Re:A concerted effort... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138700)

www.georgewbush.com
www.gotse.cx

Re:A concerted effort... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138701)

I currently have a 100 megabit connection hooked up to my home PC (I live in Japan). It's awesome for downloading from a server within the Japanese 'net infrastructure (the other day I downloaded an 8 megabyte file and it was finished before firefox had managed to open its download window). However once you start connecting to places a few more hops away (ie. outside the country) there generally tends to be a bottleneck somewhere (often at the server end if it's heavily loaded) so the benefit naturally diminishes.

Anyway, Americans count yourself lucky. In the UK (my former home) it's a pain in the butt to even get a 1 meg installed. If you think the US is lagging behind, the UK is still crawling out of the dark ages.

PS. Sorry for the 'coward' identity. I did register for a login about 3 days ago, but the email never came.

Yawn. Same old story. (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 10 years ago | (#10138546)

His 10-megabit-per-second service from telecommunications company Bredbandsbolaget is up to 20 times faster than conventional cable modems, enabling a user to download a two-hour movie in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

His 10mbit cable modem is a little over 3x as fast as standard Comcast, 2.5x as fast as standard Cox in GA, about 2.5x as fast as Roadrunner in Western OH, and about 6.7x faster than the rest of the Cable modems I know of (I have heard rumors of Optimum Online being 10mbit). It's about 5x as fast as my Frontier/Visi DSL here in MN, about 6.7x faster than my parent's Epix DSL in PA... The only service I have heard of under 1mbit in recent memory is Qwest DSL here in Minnesota that is only 640k.

We are also comparing Sweeden to the United States... I don't need to rehash the fact that the US is quite a bit larger than Sweeden and the population dense areas are quite a distance apart. You just have to love that they mention sharing a DVD over the Net with a friend, WTF?! Give me a break, why did they even bring that shit up? They know that's illegal here...

Yeah, the US sucks for broadband. It's slow in comparison, it's expensive in comparison (although near here in Chaska, MN they have 1mbit (uncapped so it can go as high as 3mbit bi-directional) mesh-wireless for $17/mo), and it's controlled by single providers. In free markets supply and demand run the system. People are willing to pay $40+/mo for the broadband offered and the companies have no reason to upgrade when people do.

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (5, Interesting)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 10 years ago | (#10138608)

TFA says that Canada ranks with South Korea in broadband penetration, and it has similar geography to the US.

In other words, it's the Baby Bells and the FCC who make it hard for communities to roll their own broadband, not distance or regulations or profit.

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (1)

jhoffoss (73895) | about 10 years ago | (#10138643)

TimeWarner in Minneapolis offer 6M down, 768k up (I think.) That's the best I've seen apart from SDSL, but it runs $85/mo.

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (1)

easter1916 (452058) | about 10 years ago | (#10138679)

SBC SW Bell in St. Louis offers 6Mb down, 512k up for $45/month. It's awesome.

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138656)

His 10mbit cable modem is a little over 3x as fast as standard Comcast

Funny, I've never known Comcast to offer 3 megabit upload on their cable modems.

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (1)

garcia (6573) | about 10 years ago | (#10138754)

Funny I didn't see the Reuters article mention anything about 10mbit/10mbit. They just mentioned 10mbit being 20x faster than "traditional cable modems".

If they are talking about 10/10 then it's only 6x faster than Comcast, not 20x. Your point?

Opt Online (1)

T-Kir (597145) | about 10 years ago | (#10138721)

My brothers Optimum Online broadband connection speed tests show it to be a 5Mbit down, and 512Kbit up... that is for Norwalk in CT. I don't know if the speeds vary region to region, but that is for the standard residential service... I think the business service goes up to 10Mbit.

Most of this is AFAIK, because I'm posting this from a standard 512/256 broadband connection in the UK... if you think the USA is a broadband backwater, think what it is like over here!

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (5, Insightful)

inburito (89603) | about 10 years ago | (#10138732)

You do know that USA is quite a bit more densely populated than Sweden, don't you? As a matter of fact the population density in USA is 45% greater than Sweden!

Btw.. What you are describing is a monopoly (which is the case in usa) and not a free market. In a truly free market we would have prices that are no higher than the actual cost of providing the service, anything else is reflective of monopoly power.

So ironically we have a fundamentally socialist country here providing a more economically sensible alternative than the home of capitalism can..

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (5, Informative)

CoderByBirth (585951) | about 10 years ago | (#10138750)

I have bredbandsbolaget as my ISP. Let me clear up some facts in your post:
His 10mbit cable modem is a little over 3x as fast as...
The article is a bit unclear here, so it's understandable that you think he has a cable modem. In fact bredbandsbolaget delivers 10mbit ethernet to apartment houses, connected to an optical fiber connection. This means that they deliver 10mbit in both directions, which is significantly different from what any high-speed DSL/cable modems are capable of delivering.

We are also comparing Sweeden to the United States... I don't need to rehash the fact that the US is quite a bit larger than Sweeden and the population dense areas are quite a distance apart.
Population density, Sweden: 20 citizens/square kilometer.
Population density, USA: 33 citizens/square kilometer. (CIA Factbook)

As for population dense areas in US being quite a distance apart, you are probably right.

Re:Yawn. Same old story. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 years ago | (#10138788)

*We are also comparing Sweeden to the United States... I don't need to rehash the fact that the US is quite a bit larger than Sweeden and the population dense areas are quite a distance apart.*

sweden has smaller population density than usa, with smaller towns/cities. same thing with finland. the "oh we're so damn big" argument is a stupid one, since there's also more people living more dense so it should be easier to make it more profitable to arrange broadband to them(and less problems with the last leg being too long for dsl).

the "usa is bigger" argument makes sense when you compare to something like tokio sure, but then again you should compare to a similar metropolitan area in the states.

*In free markets supply and demand run the system. People are willing to pay $40+/mo for the broadband offered and the companies have no reason to upgrade when people do.* yeah but is the market free, do they have a choice really?

Why not just (-1, Offtopic)

Jakhel (808204) | about 10 years ago | (#10138549)

bomb them, then steal their broadband? It works for everything else..

Re:Why not just (2, Insightful)

pikine (771084) | about 10 years ago | (#10138620)

If you bomb the place,
you too destroy their broadband.
Nothing left to steal.

--- Pikine's Haiku

So true (4, Insightful)

StevenHenderson (806391) | about 10 years ago | (#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 (1, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 10 years ago | (#10138649)

Worded for parallelism: "While other countries develop cutting-edge infrastructures that are subsidized by the government monopoly, we are stuck here in the US paying money to private sector monopolies for relatively substandard services." Meet the new boss, just like the old boss...

Companies don't want business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138660)

I'll give the example of my mother and father. They live 7,000' from the phone company, within the city limits, in a city of 80,000 people. The phone company placed something they called a compressor on the line to my dad's house (apparently to run more than one phone line over the wires into his neighborhood), which makes DSL impossible. The phone company wants $1,200 to fix it. Monthly rates after that are $60.

The cable company offers cable access, but you are /required/ to buy their $500 cable modem, and commit to a three year contract. Montly rates are around $80.

Horseshit. These companies don't want business.

Back Hoe (2, Funny)

955301 (209856) | about 10 years ago | (#10138762)

Tell your Dad that he will consider fronting the money to fix it, but needs to meet someone at the location of the compressor to see what's involved and where his money is going.

Then, after the meeting, where he says he'll call them back, your Dad gets one of his buddy's with a backhoe and some beer...

Hey, if it ain't broke, how are they ever going to fix it right?

Re:Companies don't want business (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 10 years ago | (#10138781)

[snip: phone and cable companies charging exorbitant setup and monthly fees] These companies don't want business.

Then take their business. Get a few T1s, some WiFi equipment, and some parabolic antennas. Then sell fixed wireless broadband to your neighborhood.

Re:So true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138726)

There is no demand for high-bandwidth, high-penetration broadband in America. Sure, a vocal minority of users who feel their views should be imposed on everyone in the form of taxpayer-supported (read - you pay for it wheter you want it or not) broadband.

This is like complaining that there is no Super Walmart in the middle of the desert. The few people that live there (and lets assume they actually want one) cannot possibly make such a venture profitable, let alone pay for the cost alone, yet demanding that everyone who lives thousands of miles away in the cities should pony up the money to pay for it.

Re:So true (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 10 years ago | (#10138745)

The problem with Broadband in the US? Profit. If there is no profit in extending broadband to a community, then it doesn't happen. Profits given to shareholders or spread around executives with multi-million-dollar salaries mean higher prices and lower performance for us.

Why expand the network if you already have people paying $50/month for a 3Mb connection? Why not just spend a few million keeping communities from rolling their own infrastructure and providing service? It keeps profits up!

President-Vice Richard B. Cheney: -1, Felonious (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138565)


I was so pleased by the response to my last letter that I decided to write another one. Don't worry; I have plenty of new stuff to say about Richard B Cheney and his henchmen. Although not without overlap and simplification, I plan to identify three primary positions on Cheney's screeds. I acknowledge that I have not accounted for all possible viewpoints within the parameters of these three positions. Nevertheless, it doesn't do us much good to become angry and wave our arms and shout about the evils of Cheney's pleas in general terms. If we want other people to agree with us and join forces with us, then we must tell you a little bit about Cheney and his prudish bait-and-switch tactics.

Should someone think that I am saying too much, I am not saying too much, but much too little. For if I have a bias, it is only against tactless blowhards who make excessive use of foul language.

Cheney seeks scapegoats for his own shortcomings by blaming the easiest target he can find, that is, discourteous sluggards. His method (or school, or ideology -- it is hard to know exactly what to call it) goes by the name of "Cheney-ism". It is a crass and avowedly raving philosophy that aims to batten on the credulity of the ignorant. It's not that I have anything against windbags in general. It's just that he keeps trying to demand special treatment that, in many cases, borders on the ridiculous. And if we don't remain eternally vigilant, he will truly succeed. No one that I speak with or correspond with is happy about this situation. Of course, I don't speak or correspond with deceitful know-nothings, Cheney's toadies, or anyone else who fails to realize that I overheard one of Cheney's apple-polishers say, "Cheney would sooner give up money, fame, power, and happiness than perform a brazen act." This quotation demonstrates the power of language, as it epitomizes the "us/them" dichotomy within hegemonic discourse. As for me, I prefer to use language to discuss the programmatic foundations of Cheney's irritable ideologies in detail. So, sorry for being so long-winded in this letter, but Richard B Cheney is calling for blind, impulsive action for the sake of action, for the sake of making himself feel good.

Defeat Bush Again: Do Not Elect Him In 2004,
Kilgore Trout

off topic, but ... (0, Offtopic)

pikine (771084) | about 10 years ago | (#10138734)

Dear Anonymous Coward,

Since your intention is to write unbiased material, I'd like to refer you to WikiPedia's Neutral Point of View [wikipedia.org] article. Notice that NPOV doesn't mean you can't say your opinion, but you must say so ("my opinion is that ...") and possibly present other people's opinion. In your writing, there is a mixed personal opinion and small number of facts. It might have been better to highlight both of them separately.

Size DOES matter. (1, Insightful)

miroth (611718) | about 10 years ago | (#10138567)

The problem is the size of our country. In South Korea and Switzerland it's easy to string fiber everywhere for cheap, because the whole country is developed. In the U.S. there are miles and miles of wasteland that make it difficult to bring fiber to the curb.

Re:Size DOES matter. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138597)

If you really meant "miles and miles of wasteland" instead of "purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain", take a trip across country sometime, and learn to appreciate the natural beauty. There's more out there than what you see on your screen. ;)

Re:Size DOES matter. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138675)

When he said "miles and miles of wasteland" I just assumed he was talking about New Jersey...

Re:Size DOES matter. (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10138722)

There's more out there than what you see on your screen.

Poppycock! I've got Purple Mountains Majesty right here! [aol.com] ;-)

Re:Size DOES matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138756)

You clearly never have been to Switzerland.

2 words (2, Insightful)

Lostie (772712) | about 10 years ago | (#10138574)

Population density.
Not so much Sweeden, but certainly South Korea and Japan the population density in the cities is much greater - so it's a lot more cost-effective to roll out high-speed broadband in those areas, and there is less of a problem with factors such as distance.
Also, all of those countries have had some form of government funding/grants (correct me if I'm wrong), especially South Korea which has had a huge amount of money spent on infrastructure. The main lesson we can learn from South Korea is that "if you provide it (highspeed broadband), the customers will come" (not least because of the lure of 'adult' sites ;))

Re:2 words (4, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 10 years ago | (#10138655)

RTFA:
A more just comparison would likely be Canada; but wait: they're not only offering faster speeds than their southern neighbors, but consumers pay less, and Canada is close to South Korea when it comes to broadband penetration.

fiber/wireless/community (1, Interesting)

alexandre (53) | about 10 years ago | (#10138576)

I want some community owned fiber network to my house! :|

Good! (0)

jarich (733129) | about 10 years ago | (#10138578)

Sounds great... let's upgrade here! :)

martinalderson@gmail.com can fix it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138579)

Problems with American broadband? Just ask martinalderson@gmail.com [mailto] ! Yes, martinalderson@gmail.com [mailto] is the sort of guy who'll happilly fix it and give out GMail invites at the same time! So rememeber, that name again is martinalderson@gmail.com [mailto] !

P.S: martinalderson@gmail.com [mailto] has broadband.

Re:martinalderson@gmail.com can fix it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138793)

martinalderson@gmail.com [mailto] is sad that the parent was moderated "Troll". Why did you have to upset martinalderson@gmail.com [mailto] you nasty moderator?

Small scale vs. large scale. (0, Redundant)

Geekenstein (199041) | about 10 years ago | (#10138580)

What the people who compare the US to these tiny little countries fail to see is the vast differences in terms of scale we're talking about to make a comparable system in the US.

There is absolutely no comparison to networking a country the size of one of our smaller states and a country as physically vast and populated as the US. The prices for materials ends up being much higher, and the logistics problems grow in order of magnitudes.

When China or Russia or India run gigabit to every home, then I'll start worrying.

So basically ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138800)

If you consisted of say around 50 largely autonomous regions it should be easy to emulate Sweden right?

I wouldn't trade better broadband... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138581)

...For communism, sorry.

I'm very happy to be living in within a structure of a decentralized broadband access where each individual state dictates the best method of communication, rather than a country tell me that only DSL or CABLE is available.

I don't want my broadband to be a beurocracy, and I can put up with a few hiccups here and there because down the road, we're going to catch up and feel at ease.

It's interesting how the author fails to mention that there are restrictions on websites that users can visit in the aforementioned country, but I digress. I guess that's a convenient oversight.

Re:I wouldn't trade better broadband... (3, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | about 10 years ago | (#10138662)

I'm very happy to be living in within a structure of a decentralized broadband access where each individual state dictates the best method of communication

So, you'd be QUITE HAPPY to have the means of communication DICTATED BY THE STATE eh comrade? Why, you COMMUNIST!

Nah, seriously, the reasons why the US has somewhat slower broadband probably relate to how much higher the actual demand for it is in SK and Sweden. You don't have to start raging against the monster of socialism every time the US isn't #1.

The internet is a necessity these days (5, Insightful)

Slashbot Hive-Mind (810267) | about 10 years ago | (#10138582)

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 (4, Interesting)

mealtime_warrior (785122) | about 10 years ago | (#10138593)

Sweeden: 173,732 square miles South Korea: 38,000 square miles USA: 3,537,441 square miles

Re:Area to cover (5, Insightful)

easter1916 (452058) | about 10 years ago | (#10138633)

Sweden population - ~8 million. Korea population - ~50 million. USA population - ~290 million. What was your point again?

Re:Area to cover (1)

Dr. Hok (702268) | about 10 years ago | (#10138687)

You took the word right out of my mouth. I was in Sweden recently (the densely populated south of Sweden to be precise) and was amazed at how sparsely populated it is. And I do come from a rural area.

Re:Area to cover (0, Redundant)

fireboy1919 (257783) | about 10 years ago | (#10138769)

I think you have pretty clearly shown his point, easter1916. The US has a lot fewer people per acre than either of these two countries.

Having said that, though, shouldn't there be pockets of good internet service in big cities?

It would be worth it to me to move to a heavily populated area if I got 100MB/s internet access in return without paying $1000 a month. However, I have not heard of any heavily populated area in which any service provider offers such a thing, which makes me think that the US really doesn't have any excuse.

Re:Area to cover (1)

pether (41295) | about 10 years ago | (#10138798)

More people more capital to invest and to make revenue from so I don't believe that the biggest reason. More legalisation and the fact that in Sweden the goverment own all the railroads and put down good fiber and rented out the capacity.

Re:Area to cover (2, Interesting)

Artega VH (739847) | about 10 years ago | (#10138676)

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 is too expensive) and the network is pretty much all owned by telstra, which means they control the prices.

You septics should stop complaining...

Just a quick comparison between my cable and a mate of mine in sweden. We both start to download the same torrent at the same time, and he gets 3 times my download speed.. partly thats due to location but 3 times is a pretty huge difference.

Re:Area to cover (3, Informative)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 10 years ago | (#10138783)

Canada: 3,855,102.64 square miles
Penetration: Similar to South Korea
Their solution: Public funding.

High Speed Revolution (5, Funny)

UncleBiggims (526644) | about 10 years ago | (#10138594)

The High Speed Revolution will televised in the US ONLY.

In all other countries, it will be streamed in HD over 100Mbps connections.

There are some complicated legal problems (4, Interesting)

HMA2000 (728266) | about 10 years ago | (#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.

Sigh...

Ah feal yo payn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138737)

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.
I have to agree. But, look at it this way: at least the people getting F'd in the A would deserve it - they would be paying the price for their own shortsightedness and greed.

A wireless grid infrastructure may be the answer, but personally I'd hate that because of the military vulnerabilities it would introduce. Wired is slightly safer for national defense, and as long as the fedguv continues to pick fights in the Third World we're going to need a strong national defnese.

My 4Mbit DSL isn't so bad (2, Insightful)

AGTiny (104967) | about 10 years ago | (#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!

You think the US is bad? (1)

richy freeway (623503) | about 10 years ago | (#10138610)

Try living in the UK. Sure we got broadband, sure we got pretty good coverage. But the price? ARRRGH!!!

£20 a month for 512/256 ADSL? Nice. Or not?

Re:You think the US is bad? (1)

cyberwitz (767170) | about 10 years ago | (#10138702)

That's pretty much dead on US prices (about $36)

Re:You think the US is bad? (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | about 10 years ago | (#10138763)

£20 a month for 512/256 ADSL? Nice. Or not?

That's one hell of a price - in Australia we pay $AU80/month for 512/256 ADSL w/ 10 gigs.

Re:You think the US is bad? (1)

Run4yourlives (716310) | about 10 years ago | (#10138771)

That's about the same as Canada. $40 CDN a month is average, but you can get it as cheap as $20 sometimes.

What the hell. (1)

chendo (678767) | about 10 years ago | (#10138799)

20 pounds a month for 512/256? Aren't you guys lucky. Down in Australia here, we get 512/128 for $80 AUD per month, and that's with bandwidth caps.

And pfft, coverage-wise, Australia is far bigger and less dense than both.

Don't complain.

The US has Bigger Better Broadband (0, Flamebait)

shm (235766) | about 10 years ago | (#10138614)

... only they call it their beltsize.

In other news.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138616)

.. the UK has just figured out how to string two plastic cups together for 9600bps.

2 words.... land mass (2, Insightful)

Gaewyn L Knight (16566) | about 10 years ago | (#10138626)

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.

Not land mass but economics... (1)

PatHMV (701344) | about 10 years ago | (#10138748)

But that's not the problem at all. During the telecom/dot boom, companies were laying fiber left and right. The last reports I read suggested that something like only 10% of it was "lit", while the rest was "dark", not being actively used.

The cross-country spanning fiber is laid. There's plenty of fiber going in to most communities. The problem is the "last mile" of getting it to the home. What's holding us up is companies figuring out how to profit from installing it that last mile from the central distribution point to your home. Will you be willing to pay more for your cable service for all the new features that a fiber-optic pipe to your house will offer? I doubt it. Will you pay more for your dsl or cable-modem connection for 10 or 100 times the speed, or will you decide that your current speed is preferable to an extra $20 or $50 per month?

Re:2 words.... land mass (4, Informative)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | about 10 years ago | (#10138772)

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.

Re:2 words.... land mass (1)

terriblekarmanow tm (592883) | about 10 years ago | (#10138782)

Erm, actually population density in Sweden is lower than in the US, so it would be easier to implement it economically in the US. You don't have to lay it all at the same time you know. The railroads weren't built in a week either, were they? Maybe you (as a country) should go back to doing something constructive in your own country, instead of bombing the shit out of camelfuckers.

We hear ya screaming (1)

east coast (590680) | about 10 years ago | (#10138637)

I hear a lot of grumbling over US broadband and my question is; What can we do? Are we stuck with what we have? Is there someone we can complain to who will both listen and also be able to make a difference?

For the most part it seems like a lot of the complaining done is pretty much futile since we have no control over the situation.

Re:We hear ya screaming (1)

soltarusprime (791124) | about 10 years ago | (#10138773)

We are more or less stuck. Time Warner Cable only available here in "western ohio" and its 50-60$/month with 3Mbit down. While a 2 hour drive north to Michigan and there are 2 competing cable companies, one of which offers a tiered solution so that you can get that instant on / always on without shelling out big bucks.

I drool and dream about this happening (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138640)

... but it won't happen anytime soon.

There is an illusion of competition driving the telecom world in North America, but in fact there isn't much desire to compete like that.

I think it's a shame the governments are so apathetic, and populated by professional lazy ass morons.

Some may argue internet communication doesn't benefit everyone- so no tax money should go into it. Bullshit- take just the stolen money back from Bush's oil pals and we could have gigabit ethernet to every home, maybe even Alaska. /was I ranting? I didn't notice

Result of Free Markets (1)

srwalter (39999) | about 10 years ago | (#10138646)

I propose that the reason broadband isn't more widely used in the US is simply because the demand for it isn't there. Most people aren't going to derive 2x the benefit from paying 2x (or in some cases as much as 5x) more for broadband over dialup.

In other countries broadband, and telecom in general, are run as a monopoly by the government, which uses tax money to heavily subsidize the costs. Basically, people don't know what they're paying for it. So naturally it'll appear a good choice to pay a few bucks more for government internet access than 3rd-party, unsubsidized dial-up.

Frankly, I'm glad we have the situation that we do here in the States. There are plenty of venues for people to obtain broadband if they want it. Cable/DSL in most cities, or satellite and other esoteric forms for the rest.

Re:Result of Free Markets (1)

soltarusprime (791124) | about 10 years ago | (#10138738)

"Frankly, I'm glad we have the situation that we do here in the States. There are plenty of venues for people to obtain broadband if they want it. Cable/DSL in most cities, or satellite and other esoteric forms for the rest." Have to argue on that one. I have access to Time Warner Cable and that's about it. DSL is not available because I am, despite being in a city, too far from the nearest hub - yet SBC is too dumb to quit calling me and asking if I'm interested in getting it. My other options are DirecPC which is a service purposely hobbled by download limitations, lack of newsgroups, poor ping reply (500-700 ms best conditions) and its outrageous price and overall requirement that you buy their shoddy equipment. There is "wireless" internet but its the same thing, slow expensive and strangely enough the signal doesn't get everywhere.

Free Market my ass! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138792)

The government used tax dollars to subsidize the building of the railroads and roads that made wiring the nation possible, then used tax manipulation to subsidize the creation of telephone monopolies, and now the boradband providers OWN the government and manipulate the law to preserve the monopolies tax dollars built.

Get real. A free market results in competition, which results in better service to customers, which is WHAT WE AIN'T GOT.

The media content and channel providers bought the US government lock, stock and barrel before I was born.

Yeah, well... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138651)

We've got still got Paul Hamm's gold medal, you freaking crybabies. Honestly, can't a single international sporting event go off without the Koreans pitching a fit at someone?

Meanwhile in Broadband Britain... (4, Funny)

thinkninja (606538) | about 10 years ago | (#10138653)

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?

Re:Meanwhile in Broadband Britain... (5, Funny)

mccalli (323026) | about 10 years ago | (#10138761)

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?

Yes. The cow was given a proper funeral, with all appropriate honours. It was very mooving.

Cheers,
Ian

The size argument is crap (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | about 10 years ago | (#10138663)

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.

Re:The size argument is crap (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | about 10 years ago | (#10138752)

Canada being both geographically larger and far less densely populated then the US

But most of canada is a wasteland [atlas.gc.ca] .

The US is just a lousy place to get broadband.

Perhaps. But you still must recognize that there is some truth to the idea of geographical differences playing a part in this mess.

Greed and incompetence! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138664)

The comcast network, for example, is so poorly structured and administrated that the vast majority of the bandwidth is monopolized by virii and spammers. Judging by the attack sources on my firewall and mailservers, roadrunner, verizon and cox are in the boat.

Since the broadband providers usually have geographical monopolies, they do not have to respond to competitive forces (thank you corporate republicrat drones in high office!) and thus have no incentive to hire the (expensive) people who could easily crush the virus problem, which in turn would castrate the spammers (since nearly all of the operate from cracked cable victims these days).

COMPETENT computer scientists could knock every_known_virus off comcast.com in two weeks or less USING EXISTING EQUIPMENT AND FOSS. Why don't they do so? Because Comcast is too GREEDY to hire COMPETENT people, bottom line. As the comedienne used to say in the days of Ma Bell: "we're the phone company. We don't care - because we don't have to".

Introducing true competition for broadband would solve the problem eventually, but the "invisible hand of capitalism", like the "great wheel of karma", moves exceedingly slowly when there are existing infrastructure monopolies.

We Failed It Somehow. (2, Funny)

jetkust (596906) | about 10 years ago | (#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.

geography and wealth (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138682)

Geography is partly the issue. The large area of the US makes it harder to cover the entire population. You'll probably find that the rate of adoption is quite high in urban areas and very little in rural ones.

The other issue is wealth / money: there are many people with lower incomes in the US then in the countries with a high adoption rate. This is partly due to the fact that the US has a much larger population (US pop. ~ pop. of all of the EU). If the choice is between food and broadband, most people would choose food (though maybe not the Slashdot crowd :).

Heh. (1)

cmacmanus (713176) | about 10 years ago | (#10138688)

At least we own the majority of the IP addresses! :)

Other countries do exist, you know (4, Insightful)

lachlan76 (770870) | about 10 years ago | (#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.

Size has nothing to do with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138725)

Canada is larger than the US and we have implemented many high speed fiber loops in each province.
You just need to realize as long as you willing to pay $20-$30 a month for a crap connection that is all you will ever get.

Large Land Mass == Slow Rollout (1, Redundant)

RunzWithScissors (567704) | about 10 years ago | (#10138727)

We Americans have always had to contend with the fact that our country is friggin' HUGE. Korea and Sweden by comparison are quite small. To get the Power and Phone infrastructure we implemented regulated monopolies. Would we do that for broadband? Probably not with the current state of the politicos on privatization and such. Companies are no longer interested in last mile as it is not profitable. So nationwide 100Mb, probably not for some time.

-Runz

In the Great White North ... (1)

Tremblay99 (534187) | about 10 years ago | (#10138731)

I pay $30 Canadian a month for 3 mbit down and something close to 1 mbit up. I can also share music, so I have a use for the upload speed ;)

Sloooooow Reuters Site...! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 10 years ago | (#10138740)

Slashdotters, is anyone out there finding that the Reuters site is darn sloooow? I am using Mandrake 10.0 with KDE 3.2. Those using IE or Mozilla are telling me that it is not the case. Is Reuters involved in "Browser Arpetheid"?

We COULD have fiber to every home .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138746)

if we weren't busy waging war.

Re:We COULD have fiber to every home .. (1)

east coast (590680) | about 10 years ago | (#10138778)

if we weren't busy waging war.

Ya, because Verizon is right on the front lines...

Finland the broadband backwater (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138747)

Well, I believe Finland is a far worse broadband backwater than the USA.

You know, one of the largest ISPs, Elisa, just doubled the speed of their most common connection - to AMAZING 1024/512!

Finland was once among the most advanced when it comes to internet technology. But thanks to greedy ISPs like Sonera and Elisa, people here believe a 2Mbit connection to be amazingly fast and the companies of course have no intention to do anything about it. After all, they can slowly bring up the speeds as the people complain - and get huge profit. I think the situation's quite a bit worse in here than in the USA, though we sure as hell have the capability to build a system comparable to Sweden. And in fact my connection now never works at 1Mbit, it's more like 800-900k or something.

Sweden's far more advanced, though our beloved neighbour is actually slightly larger. I'm amazed that it's so damn impossible for us to build a network of at least a bit higher speed connections. At best you can get a 8/1Mbit connection for about 60 euros (that's 80 dollars or something?), and that's only at some of the largest cities.

Thank god we have started to get smaller ISPs giving a bit better connections. Competition begins to force the large companies to start rising speeds too.

Korea gone streaming crazy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138751)

I ran across this the other day. http://www.digital-rapids.com/News_PressRelease.ht ml/ [digital-rapids.com] third story down. Its interesting because its really a cable over IP deployment using WM9. Korea can do this because the government has made it the highest priority to move education, telecommunications, and television to an all IP based infrastructure. Seems like Korea took those dot-com promises of hundreds of channels of television delivered over broadband seriously.

Uhm... small countries, here, people (2, Insightful)

VonGuard (39260) | about 10 years ago | (#10138753)

It's significantly easier to roll out fiber and fat pipes to folks who live a maximum of 500 miles from the CO than it is to run those same cables out to the rural ass areas of middle America.

Fat pipes from city to city are also more costly than in the often-time-pickled Korea, or the lightly-dusted-with-population Sweden.

DSL more popular than cable... (2, Interesting)

pdaoust007 (258232) | about 10 years ago | (#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...

uuh.... (1)

jwdb (526327) | about 10 years ago | (#10138764)

...behind such countries as Belgium.

What's he got against Belgium?!?

A Confused Belgian

What about the UK? (2, Insightful)

CamTarn (751785) | about 10 years ago | (#10138766)

The US a broadband backwater? Hah! The UK has only just started getting broadband in the last couple of years, and 512kbit is still considered 'high speed'. A 128kbit connection is considered broadband by the definition of the government (for the purposes of being able to say "We've made sure that over 90% of the population has broadband available to them.")

I'm pretty tired of hearing people from the US complain about their >1Mbit connections being slow.

In other news, every time I hear a web developer say "My page loads fast enough on my 4Mbit connection. If you're on dialup ... UPGRADE!! LOL." I wish for a shotgun...

Is America really that bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138776)

Take a look at places such as England or Australia. Broadband is slower, more expensive, and in Australia often sold with a monthly data transfer limit.

Over Promises (1)

xombo (628858) | about 10 years ago | (#10138784)

The fact is that most of the things that sold the early adopters on broadband years ago still haven't come to fruition. Granted, broadband is more adopted than dial-up now, but its more for convenience (not having to dial in all the time), cost-effectiveness (not having to pay for an extra phone line and internet service), and speed (anything is better than AOL). But whatever happened to internet television? How about widely-accessible VoIP that integrates with your home's internet phone network? Devices that employ the internet for practical purposes, making your life easier? If anything I'm just using broadband to get porn at the speed of light.

You want retarded net? Try Australia (1)

yuud (690436) | about 10 years ago | (#10138789)

At least in the USA you don't have an oligopoly to deal with, where you pay through both nostrils for bandwidth-limited/capped services.

So quit your whining, yanks! :)

I've been very impressed by UK broadband - highly competetive, cheap and relatively unrestricted usage. Nerd heaven.

Live in Japan, US & Canada - they speak the tr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10138790)

For even a moderate connection in Tokyo I would pay around $50USD, after a fairly expensive line install cost ($300), but then would have sustained upload capability of 700kB/s (One megabyte in less than 2 seconds) and downloads easily twice that. Within Canada and the US it's a very very good day if I can download at 300kB/s from either cable or ADSL and upload a third of that speed. But guess what, the telco's/cableco's in North America have no reason whatsoever to upgrade because people don't know what they're missing nor is there a reasonably priced alternative.
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