19 January 2015

We need Municipal Broadband NOW and then....

I just called AT&T to ask them what the best available "broadband" speed they offered at my address, which is located in a densely populated close-in suburb of Los Angeles, America's second largest city. The best speed they offer is 6 MB/sec. on DSL. There's no fiber optic and no HD television available. Verizon FIOS is not available either (thanks to the vestiges of past telecom monopolies). And thanks to corporate lobbying, the City and State have failed to provide any municipal broadband option. The alternative, which is cable, is supposed to be 50 MB/sec. but my actual measured speed is more like 17 MB/sec. This compares to 1 Gigabyte/sec. routinely available in Cedar Falls, IA where Obama gave a speech recently in favor of removing barriers to municipal broadband. (Similar speed is available in Chattanooga, TN, which also pioneered a municipal system, and, for businesses, in Santa Monica, CA). This speed is also routinely available in France, South Korea, and Japan.

America "invented" the internet, but we're falling behind the rest of the world in internet infrastructure, and the reason is that the short term profit model of for-profit media companies does not achieve the necessary infrastructure investment. Public internet infrastructure must be introduced to create the necessary competition to force the whole system to advance... just as happened in the past with electrification, natural gas supplies, and even to a degree radio and television (which aren't entirely comparable because there's no "last mile" infrastructure that has to be built).

I urge everyone to demand that your local municipality work to create municipal broadband, and if your state (like California, in part) has impediments to it, demand that they be lifted.

And then, once that's achieved, maybe the USA could regain the initiative and commit to building a worldwide satellite based secure worldwide network... that would bring true secure interconnectivity to the entire world. The technology to do this is already understood; there is simply a lack of willingness to make the investment. Time was the US would make such investments as a matter of course, but no more. If we really care about regaining and maintaining our role as a world technology leader, this would be just the sort of thing that would do it. 

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