The State of US Broadband

by Preston Gralla

Here's more evidence that the U.S. is a second-rate nation when it comes to broadband -- Australia just announced a plan to bring broadband to 99% of its citizens in two years. And the country's only criticism of the plan is this: It will only have a minimum speed of 12 Mbps, and it's too little, too late. So reports the Sidney Morning Herald.

Compare that with our pitiful broadband showing. As I reported in my blog yesterday, when it comes to broadband, we're 24th worldwide, with broadband penetration at an anemic 53%

Reading the Australian pol's criticism of their plan is somewhat surrealistic, considering that our government refuses to spend money for broadband deployment, or require telcos to provide it.

In Australian cities, broadband speeds will be up to 70 Mbps, while in the distant rural areas, it will be 12 Mbps --- far faster than just about all broadband in the U.S.

Says Australian labour leader Kevin Rudd, "The government proposes a two-tier system -- a good system for the cities, they say, and a second-rate system for rural and regional Australia."

Right now, I'd be more than happy with a second-rate speed of 12 about you?

If you need any more evidence that U.S. broadband is anemic at best, here's another one: The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has just released a report ranking us 16th in broadband speeds and connectivity among industrialized nations.

According to a Computerworld report, "the median real-time download speed in the U.S. is 1.9Mbit/sec., compared with 61Mbit/sec. in Japan, 45Mbit/sec. in South Korea, 17Mbit/sec. in France and 7Mbit/sec. in Canada."

Not only are our speeds pitifully slow, but we pay more for them. The Computerworld article notes that in Japan, people pay about $30 per month for 50Mbit/sec. access. By way of contrast, in the U.S., we pay $20 for about 1Mbit/sec. service and $30 to $40 for about 4Mbit/sec. service.

As I've previously written, we also lag the world when it comes to broadband penetration as well. We're a mediocre 24th in the world.

Congress may take action to improve on all that. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) has introduced a bill to require that the federal government better track true broadband use, something the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has refused to do. That bill will only be the first step; next will come pressure to ensure better broadband access for all.