Om Malik notes that some countries are getting much higher levels of bandwidth than we do here (I just tested mine - I get 16 mbps down, 1 mbps up). Here's how he starts off:
Swedish grannies are connecting to the net at 40 gigabits per second life; 100 megabit per seconds are becoming common place in Japan and Korea; and even French are dreaming of an ultra-fast fiber future. And yet, in the US we are all stuck in the slow lane, settling for speeds between 768 kbps to 8 megabits per second. I have often wondered what it would be like to have a 100 megabits per second, and what I would do with that much bandwidth.
Hmm. The Sweden story is a one off experiment. So what about Japan? Well, according to this site, Japan's population was about 78% urban in 1995 (and it would be higher now). South Korea? From this site, as of 1998, almost 85% of the population was urban - and again, that would be higher now (projections have it at 92% by 2015).
So what about the US? Well, the stats from Wikipedia say that almost 81% of Americans live in cities, but that's when you have to whip out maps of the US, South Korea, and Japan. In the latter two nations, there are fewer (and larger) metropolitan areas, and wiring them handles the bulk of the population. In the US, there's just tons more land, and tons more space to be covered. This isn't that hard to figure out, but the a-list pundits like Malik and CNet's "Buzz Out Loud" crew seem to be continually mystified by the concept.
Do we have lousy broadband competition here? Sure, and that's part of the problem. However, the "last mile" in the US is a much bigger "last mile" than it is in, say, South Korea.
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