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Game Over: The U.S. is unlikely to ever regain its broadband leadership.
I, Cringely ^ | August 3, 2007 | Robert X. Cringely

Posted on 08/04/2007 11:53:48 PM PDT by HAL9000

Excerpt -

~ snip ~

It is very doubtful, almost impossible, that we'll catch up to those countries ahead of us in broadband penetration. They are too far ahead and our native demand is simply less because our Internet economies are developing more slowly. Absent some miracle, the game is already over.

As I wrote two weeks ago, the situation is likely to improve somewhat over the next year or two as the telephone companies sacrifice a little to lock us in before we switch to DOCSIS 3 cable modems and the cable companies, in turn, offer incentives to jump to their voice products. But these companies don't think at all in international terms and they simply don't care about international competitiveness or the growth of our economy. They should, but they don't. And they don't because they have never had to. Though they are required to operate in the public interest and to provide public services, these monopolies have never been forced to consider our place in the world.

~ snip ~


(Excerpt) Read more at pbs.org ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: broadband; internet; telcos; telecom
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In my opinion, the main reason the U.S. has fallen behind is - AT&T (formerly known as Southwestern Bell). They should have been upgrading their antique infrastructure instead of spending billions on unnecessary acquisitions. Their utility monopoly now covers so much territory, they can't afford the upgrades to modern technology.
1 posted on 08/04/2007 11:53:55 PM PDT by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000

For all the free trade sell outs that have been going on, it’s almost unfathomable that this could be true. If it is, it’s an amazing commentary on our corporate positioning.


2 posted on 08/04/2007 11:59:14 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (Victory will never be achieved while defining Conservatism downward, and forsaking it's heritage.)
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To: HAL9000

I do not understand, what is the problem here?


3 posted on 08/05/2007 12:06:25 AM PDT by jveritas (God bless our brave troops and President Bush.)
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To: HAL9000
our Internet economies are developing more slowly

Somebody please explain this to me. I hear a lot about the US "falling behind" because we don't have 100mbit lines to the house. Why is this exactly? Is downloading pirated movies and music faster really that necessary to the economy?
4 posted on 08/05/2007 12:12:43 AM PDT by billybudd
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To: DoughtyOne
It’s not that simple.

The US is a huge country and its citizens are spread out all over not just in large urban centers. Much of Europe, Japan and South Korea are the opposite. It is much easier to upgrade Internet infrastructures in densly populated areas than open country and small towns.

5 posted on 08/05/2007 12:17:26 AM PDT by DB
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To: HAL9000

Game over? liberals... Can’t live with them and they won’t move to france


6 posted on 08/05/2007 12:20:14 AM PDT by Porterville (I'm an American. If you hate Americans, I hope our enemies destroy you. I will pray for my soul.)
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To: billybudd
When we get to reliable 20 Mbps or so rates there’s no need for DVD movie rental, cable TV and dedicated wire phone service. Instead of cable having numerous “channels” that has on whatever is scheduled, you simply watch whatever you want from a giant online library of movies/programming when you want it. Everything is on demand real time.

While that will be nice, I don’t see it as a major economic issue in terms of the economy.

7 posted on 08/05/2007 12:24:24 AM PDT by DB
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To: HAL9000
He answers his own questions as to why this happens in the USA in contrast to Japan:

"The company was literally throwing money away, which a regulated monopoly could never do but SoftBank could...It was simply luck that SoftBank's broadband ISP turned to profitability before the company was completely broke."

Who's going to be throwing away BIG MONEY to risk on "simple luck" to gain competition with the big players?

8 posted on 08/05/2007 12:28:39 AM PDT by endthematrix (He was shouting 'Allah!' but I didn't hear that. It just sounded like a lot of crap to me.)
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To: DB

” Much of Europe, Japan and South Korea are the opposite “

Japan is “ high tech “ , until you leave the big cities ; then it’s back to 1960’s era-America . My internet cable connection is so slow between 8-10 at night I give up . The town is too “ kechi “ ( cheap ) to upgrade . There is no competition ( NTT won’t come in because most folks already have cable and won’t switch over because they know it’ll cost as little more ) , so we are screwed .


9 posted on 08/05/2007 12:28:49 AM PDT by sushiman
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To: DB

I don’t foresee the kind of hardware capable of dishing out that much bandwidth to everybody possible for quite a few years. Right now most servers can barely keep my 6Mbps cable fed. This 100mbit stuff in Europe and Korea is completely useless until hard drive and disc access speed catches up. Not everyone has a RAID array.


10 posted on 08/05/2007 12:29:35 AM PDT by miliantnutcase
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To: HAL9000

How many times have we heard that America has “fallen behind” in something and will never catch up? Hmmm? Remember in the 80’s, all the fretting about Japan “owning” the semiconductor industry? Now Intel alone eats their lunch, and thats not even including AMD and the PowerPC consortium.


11 posted on 08/05/2007 12:32:00 AM PDT by DesScorp
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To: DB
BINGO.

The authors counter argument: "To those who say this is BS and that we're actually ahead of the world if you control for rural populations, family size, the effect of Wi-Fi hotspots, etc., I say that is simply wrong: we are behind and losing ground."

He says...

12 posted on 08/05/2007 12:32:22 AM PDT by endthematrix (He was shouting 'Allah!' but I didn't hear that. It just sounded like a lot of crap to me.)
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To: billybudd
Somebody please explain this to me. I hear a lot about the US "falling behind" because we don't have 100mbit lines to the house.

For millions of Americans, the only Internet service available is dial-up telephone service - often at speeds of 15-to-20 kilobits-per-second.

Internet via wireless and satellite is not a practical alternative. It is too slow and expensive and has inadequate capacity.

Is downloading pirated movies and music faster really that necessary to the economy?

No, but digital communications is becoming an essential requirement for business. A modern telecommunications infrastructure would also reduce our energy demands, and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources.

Unfortunately, AT&T doesn't really care about our position in the global economy or our national security.

13 posted on 08/05/2007 12:33:01 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: DB

Thanks for the comments.


14 posted on 08/05/2007 12:39:26 AM PDT by DoughtyOne (Victory will never be achieved while defining Conservatism downward, and forsaking it's heritage.)
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To: jveritas
"I do not understand, what is the problem here?"

Wondering the same thing. Why is this a bid deal?

15 posted on 08/05/2007 12:40:15 AM PDT by Steve Van Doorn (*in my best Eric cartman voice* 'I love you guys')
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To: jveritas
I do not understand, what is the problem here?

Our telecommunications infrastructure is too slow and unreliable compared to many of the nations we are competing with.

Osama bin Laden has better Internet service in his cave that many Americans can get today.

16 posted on 08/05/2007 12:43:56 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000

Can get?

You can get satellite service with 1 Mbps rates for $70 a month virtually anywhere in the country. Yes, there’s definite issues with satellite service but it does work.

Areas of the country that are relatively flat often have terrestrial based wireless Internet services and are significantly less expensive than satellite and perform better. When spectrum currently used for TV is freed up those services are likely to expand.


17 posted on 08/05/2007 12:53:37 AM PDT by DB
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To: DB
I've been on a terrestrial WISP for a few years now - it's the only broadband option here. I worked closely with the network owner, so I'm very familiar with the technology. It's certainly better than the analog dial-up service on 50-year-old copper lines, but it's not an economic panacea for the lack of affordable wireline broadband service.

Wireless should be good enough for mobile platforms, but even with the upcoming auction, there isn't enough spectrum available to compete against countries that are going with fibre.

Prior to getting wireless, I had 128-kbps ISDN. It cost thousands of dollars per year. The average consumer cannot afford that kind of money for such pitiful data rates.

I suspect that most of the folks who say our infrastructure is good enough already have reasonably good service. They suggest that anyone who wants a decent connection should move to the big city, or should commute 100-miles-per-day to a town with good connectivity for their jobs. I disagree with them.

18 posted on 08/05/2007 1:17:24 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: DoughtyOne

do you really think our corporations really care what is best for America?

that ain’t the name of the game on wall street. National interest might as well be a two words of a foreign language nowadays.


19 posted on 08/05/2007 1:18:25 AM PDT by ChurtleDawg (kill em all)
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To: HAL9000
Osama bin Laden has better Internet service in his cave that many Americans can get today.

Muslim humor?
I dint know you were muslim!

Just saying.

20 posted on 08/05/2007 1:20:58 AM PDT by Publius6961 (MSM: Israelis are killed by rockets; Lebanese are killed by Israelis.)
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To: HAL9000

Those ISPs in other countries with their broadband - just about every one of them is buying Cisco routers to sling bits processed by Intel, AMD, or Sun processors. The data generally land on Seagate or Western Digital disk drives - all built into HP, IBM, or Dell servers.

In the US, we pay a lot for communications services. Why? Because we can afford it.

Here’s the secret about telecom costs. The telecom company is going to charge as much as you are willing to pay. That is, unless their government tells them how much they can charge. We DO NOT want that.


21 posted on 08/05/2007 1:23:26 AM PDT by advance_copy (Stand for life, or nothing at all)
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To: billybudd
The way broadband "leadership" is measured, the United States is at a distinct disadvantage. We are still a mostly rural country and compared to nearly every other country, we are unfathomably huge.

For example, Japan could fit easily inside of California and their urban areas are concentrated in an area roughly analogous to that from San Diego to San Francisco. So when you compare Japan to the entire continental United States, well, there really is no comparison.

And I don't think anybody from San Diego on up to San Francisco are wanting with respect to broadband.

So when one says Japan is better wired for broadband than the United States, that's sort of like saying Manhattan has better taxicab service than all of Alaska. So what's the point?

22 posted on 08/05/2007 1:48:51 AM PDT by SamAdams76 (I am 33 days away from outliving Marvin Gaye)
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To: HAL9000
I had ISDN for probably 8 years... I continued to have it even after I got cable Internet service. I used it for backup, especially at night when they do maintenance on the cable system. I've moved recently and cancled my ISDN accounts a month or so ago... I was able to get DSL as the backup at my new location. 10 Mbps cable is my primary connection.

For ISDN the phone company was about $40 to $75 a month depending on usage. The ISP was $35 a month for unlimited ISDN (not including the phone company charges). I didn’t spend thousands a year on ISDN even when that's all I had.

If you live out in the middle of nowhere, do you expect that the phone company or government should dig a trench to your house and lay fiber? Because that is the issue, not technology per se. It is all about the costs of getting to low density populations.

I believe if you go to the other countries you are so sure are ahead of us it is no better, and likely much worse for the people who live far from the cities. The difference is most Europeans live in the city unlike us. We like our space as obviously you do. We have far more roads and cars than Europe for the same reasons.

Cell phones were such a success in Europe before they were here because their wired phone systems sucked bad. Most are directly run by the government and are notoriously unreliable. I'd be surprised if that's changed much in the last 15 years.

23 posted on 08/05/2007 1:51:39 AM PDT by DB
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To: advance_copy
The telecom company is going to charge as much as you are willing to pay. That is, unless their government tells them how much they can charge. We DO NOT want that.

I believe that your state government does, in fact, regulate the rates of local wireline utility service, and the utility gets a guaranteed rate of return on their investment. The tradeoff is that the utility gets quasi-governmental powers of eminent domain, and use of the public right-of-way, and the right to bury cables and poles in your yard without paying rent to you. That's how the utility system works.

24 posted on 08/05/2007 1:57:15 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: SamAdams76
The way broadband "leadership" is measured, the United States is at a distinct disadvantage. We are still a mostly rural country and compared to nearly every other country, we are unfathomably huge.

China is larger and even more rural. They passed us in broadband deployment last year -

China will pass US in Broadband Lines by late 2006

25 posted on 08/05/2007 2:05:36 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: advance_copy

N.B. - The regulatory regime I described in #24 is about “plain old telephone service”, not Internet. But both services run on the same wirelines.


26 posted on 08/05/2007 2:08:06 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: ChurtleDawg

Isn’t that the truth...


27 posted on 08/05/2007 2:32:23 AM PDT by DoughtyOne (Victory will never be achieved while defining Conservatism downward, and forsaking it's heritage.)
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To: HAL9000
That’s lame

China has more than 3 times the population of the US.

Huge areas of China are extremely poor and likely can’t even come close to owning a computer much less have broadband Internet access.

And look at the “leader”, Hong Kong. One of the most densely populated places on earth. Duh...

28 posted on 08/05/2007 2:42:59 AM PDT by DB
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To: HAL9000

I assume Osama uses satellite access. I have it available, but don’t find it that much better than the cable access I now use.


29 posted on 08/05/2007 2:47:31 AM PDT by R. Scott (Humanity i love you because when you're hard up you pawn your Intelligence to buy a drink)
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To: R. Scott

I doubt it.

If Osama had satellite Internet it would lead our bombers to his cave.


30 posted on 08/05/2007 3:12:04 AM PDT by DB
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To: HAL9000

China has 3 or 4 times the population, so to say they pass us in the “number of broadband lines” is again a new media misconception. Additionally China now owns Hong Kong which initially had almost no infrastructure for broadband, and was built from the ground up with fiber to the premise. Just looking at three or four major China population centers it is easy to see how they could have more broadband lines.

The real issue here is enabling BUSINESS to do business faster and better with high speed connectivity. International business operations should not be built in podunk. Not only does one lack high speed connectivity, but other infrastructure as well - highway access could be restricted, distance from suppliers and raw materials - all those things play into this discussion. High speed Internet access alone does not make or break a business nor does it affect the success of that business.

I own three business’s. One is an Internet Service Provider. Two of the businesses make money the old fashioned way - selling stuff to people. They don’t need any high speed anything! To imply the the US is falling behind because we don’t have 10 megs to each home, or our kids are less educated than those who have fiber to the home is generally stated by those who chose to live in the sticks but expect to have all the same services as those who live in the big city (or any city for that matter).

I believe that if you survey every city with at least 15K population you will find broadband there. Additionally when DOCSIS 3.0 is finalized we will be providing 15 megs to each home on our cable system along with voice services. Very few computers can handle a download at 15 megs today, and probably well into the future.

So the issue really requires an examination of population density, cost vs benefit, plus you have to find out what percentage of the rural population really wants broadband.


31 posted on 08/05/2007 3:20:11 AM PDT by msrngtp2002 (Just my opinion.)
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To: HAL9000

Yeah, but that’s not a good comparison either because they have so many more people than us. It stands to reason they would have more broadband lines.


32 posted on 08/05/2007 3:21:41 AM PDT by SamAdams76 (I am 33 days away from outliving Marvin Gaye)
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To: DB
That’s lame China has more than 3 times the population of the US.

China has captured a lot of our industrial sector jobs and their economy is growing much faster than ours. Are we supposed to shrug our shoulders and surrender our supremacy in information technology to Asia too? Can you suggest a strategy to reverse the trend - or are you saying we should just carry on as we currently do and continue to fall behind?

Availability is more important than raw speed. We don't have to have the fastest broadband speeds, but we do need the widest deployment if we are going to regain the leadership position. The one advantage we have is top-quality content. But if we don't have a way to deliver it, that could change too.

33 posted on 08/05/2007 3:26:33 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: DB

Analogous to the Interstate system and railroads. Everyone always gushes over the Autobahn and their train system, but forgets Germany is the size of Indiana.


34 posted on 08/05/2007 3:26:48 AM PDT by Freedom4US
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To: HAL9000

If AT&T was never broken up in the first place (1984), then perhaps this would not be an issue.

Then again if AT&T was not broken up, then I doubt long distance calls would still be expensive.


35 posted on 08/05/2007 3:32:33 AM PDT by Sprite518
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To: HAL9000
I am a little skeptical about this. I know the U.S. has more people on the world with High Speed Internet than anyone else. Heck our country invented the Internet. Furthermore, when you think of technology companies .... U.S. companies come to mind. For instance, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc....
36 posted on 08/05/2007 3:36:07 AM PDT by Sprite518
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To: DB
The US is already ahead in this area. Its called IPTV (Internet Protocol Television). Its slowly coming out by the Bells.
37 posted on 08/05/2007 3:38:08 AM PDT by Sprite518
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To: HAL9000

China started from practically zero not long ago.

Of course they are growing quickly, there was nowhere but up to go.

We’re highly developed so there isn’t nearly as much room for growth.

Large parts of China are dirt poor, literally.

As far as deployment, it would be far more interesting how many computers there are per capita in each country and how powerful those computers are.

Internet access is available virtially anywhere in the world in one form or another.


38 posted on 08/05/2007 3:40:07 AM PDT by DB
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To: msrngtp2002
High speed Internet access alone does not make or break a business nor does it affect the success of that business.

I disagree. Electronic commerce is becoming more important every day. A company or a nation with good communications capabilities has a distinct competitive advantage over one without.

A lot of U.S. companies are outsourcing their work to offshore companies, and the thing that makes it possible is high-speed connectivity. Those jobs could be done as well or better in rural America. If we can get telcos can provide telephone service to rural areas, they ought to be able to deploy broadband to those areas too.

Some people have adopted a "can't do" attitude about broadband, but I'm not one of them.

39 posted on 08/05/2007 3:44:04 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: Steve Van Doorn

While those of us in urban areas aren’t complaining much...the rest of the country is primarily dial-up and don’t expect any relief...for at least a decade or two. The problem is that rural America isn’t getting new telephone infrastructure or upgrades...and it will simply continue. My brother works in a town where DSL and cable is everywhere....but he live 40 miles away...and dial-up is the only option. The amusing thing is that he is a modem engineer and builds all of these great modems that urban area telephone centers use. He goes home and checks email/news...forget any video/audio links or movies.

I live in Germany, where 75 percent of the population has access to DSL at this point. Private companies are competing hard to get business and cut rates...plus putting pressure on the national company that installs all telephone hook-ups to upgrade.


40 posted on 08/05/2007 3:47:54 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: pepsionice

He can get broadband now if he was willing to pay for it.


41 posted on 08/05/2007 3:51:16 AM PDT by DB
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To: pepsionice

Germany has about a quarter of the population of the US all in area about the size of Montana.


42 posted on 08/05/2007 4:02:19 AM PDT by DB
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To: HAL9000
China is larger and even more rural. They passed us in broadband deployment last year -

They also have a lot more bicycles than the US does.

43 posted on 08/05/2007 4:07:47 AM PDT by elli1
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To: billybudd
Somebody please explain this to me. I hear a lot about the US "falling behind" because we don't have 100mbit lines to the house. Why is this exactly?

This is analogous to someone who has never had access to electricity in the home wondering what all the fuss is about. High speed data access throughout the US would mean a better, more powerful data infrastructure for future applications to be built on. Such future applications might include a replacement for our current telephone system with a visual communication system, real-time remote examinations by medical experts that a patient can't get to, home automation capable of reacting intelligently to emergency weather broadcasts, and a thousand other ideas we can't envision now that would be the seeds of future business successes, wealth creation, and the overall betterment of our lives.

Is downloading pirated movies and music faster really that necessary to the economy?

I can envision someone asking if obscene phone calls were really necessary to the economy when the idea of wiring homes for telephone was first tossed out.
44 posted on 08/05/2007 4:24:24 AM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
I've had DSL for years and when I was in business it was the computer business so I'm familiar with the business benefits of high speed communications. An article like this generalizes too much and as usual there is too much "gloom and doom".

It's just another America {bad, slow, dumb, greedy, doomed, stupid, hated.... pick your own adjective} article. Ho-hum.

45 posted on 08/05/2007 4:40:11 AM PDT by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages - In Honor of Standing Wolf)
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To: HAL9000

Hmmm. Sounds like the usual editorial doom and gloom. About 10+ years ago I heard complaints of there being a lack of content on the internet. Then there was the worry that popular sites on the internet would be saturated with requests causing them to shut down. Then there was the worry about... And on it goes.


46 posted on 08/05/2007 4:55:34 AM PDT by 6SJ7
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To: HAL9000

“China is larger and even more rural. They passed us in broadband deployment last year - “

BS..Much of China outside the cities is immeasurably poor, They’d be lucky if they’d seen a computer let alone have broadband.


47 posted on 08/05/2007 4:57:54 AM PDT by Dave Elias
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To: billybudd

I don’t know about the movies and music, but trading stocks and currencies online requires a good fast broadband or cable connection. Speed is good.

I wish there were fibre optic lines everywhere. Try getting a good internet connection out in the boonies.

I use Verizon for my cell phone and out in the sticks, it stinks.

Europe has better cell phone systems. I don’t know about their internet connections.

There’s no reason why America shouldn’t be as modern, up to date or better than the rest of the world in communications.


48 posted on 08/05/2007 5:01:16 AM PDT by garyhope (It's World War IV, right here, right now, courtesy of Islam.)
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To: HAL9000
Other nations have made broadband national initiatives, but what we don’t see are the economic dislocations they cause. Our telecom infrastructure was built out without any government funding. People put their own money at risk to build the facilities they thought would be economically viable. Other nations, almost none of which have a higher per-capita income, decided to take money out of the pockets of everyone and they directed a network to be built that some committee decided was what the nation needed. Well, it doesn’t work that way very well in the long run.

The Left, who loves to scold the rest of us about ‘sustainability’ cannot understand how commercial projects must have sustainable economics. That means the value of their services must exceed on average the cost of providing them. The private telecom infrastructure in the US is sustainable. A project in some other country may have high bandwidth, but it also probably has high tax subsidies.

This is like ethanol, which appears to be about equal to gasoline in price at the pump, but only because government taxes all of us so it can subsidize the price by about 50 cents per gallon. Peple who love ethanol cheer the fuel, but they are willingly ignorant of the economic damage it is doing elsewhere and they will fight tooth and nail to keep the subsidy, despite how many bridges we could repair with the billions we are spending on it every year.

We have similar ignorant laments from time to time about passenger rail. Look at other nations! Aren’t they so advanced in their rail service? We are so behind. Yes, indeed, we never hear how much it costs and how much of the taxes of the $6/gallon gasoline goes to pay for such a great rail system.

Lastly, these high speed links are not all they are cracked up to be when used for net access. If you run traceroute on any connection, you will find a connection goes through many routers and links, and the dirty secret of a high speed connection is this: the speed of your end-to-end connection is the speed of the slowest route segment.

49 posted on 08/05/2007 5:05:32 AM PDT by theBuckwheat
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To: jveritas

itto... what’s the problem? so what?


50 posted on 08/05/2007 5:08:26 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Happiness is a down sleeping bag)
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