Why can’t the US have REALLY fast internet?

Sorry I’ve been so infrequent in blogging lately.  I’ve been sick and I’ve largely wanted to sleep when I haven’t been doing any actual revenue-generating work.

I wasn’t sure what to think about the title to this article.  It’s not that I don’t agree, it’s how the article went on to talk about how internet traffic is generally up worldwide and also about the sources of attack traffic (you know, the bad people trying to break into things).  It’s a good read, but I want to talk about the title and the leading paragraphs.

I find it disappointing that the country where the internet started doesn’t have a lead in speeds available to its citizens.  C’mon!  The Czech Republic has a faster average speed than the United States of America.  How can this be possible?

I’m not aware of any laws or government regulations limiting how much bandwidth we may have in our homes.  That being said, the following is just going to be “pulled from a random body orifice” guessing on my part as to why we lag behind.

It’s all about the money.  As dial-up services waned, we saw an increase in our internet services being provided by telephone and cable companies.  Their primary revenue focus has never been the internet so they had no real incentive to bring more to that side of the picture.  The internet is also becoming a greater source of competition for their primary services.  There are so many low-cost options for telephone and television programming, there may be little need to subscribing to them from your local company.

You could say that I’m part of the problem here.  I subscribe to the internet from my local cable company.  That’s it.  I have an indoor antenna which gets the local PBS station with amazing clarity (in my observation, this was the only station regularly watched in my house).  I can download TV shows from iTunes and Amazon.  I can stream them directly from the network web sites and places like Hulu.com.  I use a couple of different voice over IP services for telephone service.  Let’s not forget streaming from Netflix directly to my game console.  All of this has been cheaper than if I got television and telephone from my cable company as well.

I remember reading an article some time ago where the author told the story of how he had saved money by eliminating his cable television service and switched to iTunes for his television programming.  It spoke to me, but it still took me a few years to get everything in place to make the conversion.  There’s still some resistance from the family, but otherwise it’s been a great cost savings.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s going to be a great incentive for our broadband providers to invest in speeding up our internet (mind you, it’s faster than it was a few years ago, but not to the point of other countries like South Korea).  We’ll probably need a large government program to get that done.  Something along the lines of the old rural electrification project to give us faster speeds and get broadband out to those not in a major metropolitan area.  If something like this is going to happen, I just hope it happens soon.

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