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Competency 101: Doing the Obvious

February 24th, 2010

In 2002, CEO’s from the leading technology companies in America called on the federal government to adopt a goal to give 100 Mbps Internet connections to 100 million homes and small businesses by 2010. This was hardly a pipe dream: Japan’s “e-Japan” policy called for 30 Mbps nationwide by 2005–and they achieved it a year early. 100 Mbps connections are now ubiquitous here, and 1Gbps connections have been available for more than a year now. Of course, this is easier to do in Japan, but hardly impossible to do in America.

Bush gabbed about such goals in 2004 and probably at other times, but never actually did anything. This was typical of Bush where high-minded tech and science goals were involved: taking credit for calling for stuff but then never funding it or moving forward in any meaningful way. For six years after the industry leaders called for a federal plan, Bush did jack about it–and so the U.S. now lags behind lots of other countries, when it should be in the vanguard.

In comes Obama, and a year after taking office, he is doing what Bush should have done eight years ago: actually moving forward with something. The FCC, which under Bush actually hindered progress, is moving forward to demand nation-wide 100 Mbps Internet access by 2020. Yeah, pretty late–but that’s what happens when the previous administration trashes the place: you have to start from scratch. The important thing is, the Obama administration realized that something had to be done, and it is doing it.

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  1. February 25th, 2010 at 12:15 | #1

    Well, in regards to Japan accomplishing this, i’m not surprised at all. Their tech progress and industrial progress is immense. However, please keep in mind that Japan is a far smaller country than the U.S. Therefore, implementation of nationwide internet, healthcare, or other such programs, requires a much smaller scale application. In addition, I hardly think that internet access is the top of the agenda.

    However, If the administration is claiming to be able to accomplish this task at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time frame, I welcome this change.

  2. February 26th, 2010 at 03:58 | #2

    Blah blah blah. America is more densely populated than people give it credit for; around 80% of the American population lives in areas that are classified as “urban” or “urban clusters”, and that land is only 3% of the nation’s land mass.

    The real problem (IMO) is that traditionally, in America, when we have talked about (or done) bringing utilities to everyone, we’ve really done it for EVERYONE- including some rural areas that have astronomical costs on a per-customer basis for stringing electric or telephone lines.

    The urban areas have a small subcharge applied and that money is used to subsidize service out to the sticks. This was important to the USA when a majority of the population lived in rural areas.

    So when we start talking about bringing true high-speed broadband to everyone, the telcos drag their feet; they know that if we do it in the traditional way their profit margins will be tiny out in those rural areas due to high costs of providing service.

    What’s more, they do NOT want us to do it like we did telephone and electric service, where the government(s) gave out monopolies but in exchange they also instituted strict profit controls. State utility commissions still tightly control how much money even private utilities can make.

    So the internet connectivity providers are perfectly happy with the situation we have now. For the most part, they have monopolies in their local areas for that type of connection; while in theory you have DSL and cable (and now Wimax) providers competing against one another, the reality is that there’s only ONE cable provider and ONE DSL provider in the vast majority of areas.

    They provide their services to the cheapest-to-reach (and highest profit) customers but tell those in rural areas “sorry, too expensive to put service out there.” I grew up in an area of one-house-per-acre housing and we didn’t have cable until 1995.

    And they make fat profits on the areas that they do serve; rates in cities that have multiple providers for cable TV service, for example, are usually 15% to 20% less than in cities with monopolies. Service is better, too, with shorter wait times for appointments and more responsive service.

    Luis’ main point, though, is that the Bush Administration talked a lot about providing faster service, but never actually DID anything about it. Obama’s Administration is actually putting some plans into action to get faster service. Personally, I’d really like it if they’d ban monopolies in cable/telephone providers, require all cities to open up to competition, and to provide incentives to put 100mbps service into homes everywhere, but that’s probably hoping for a bit much.

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