America, the digital third world

America, the digital third world

: Network visionary David Isenberg cites an article on why we are so far behind other countries — even Jamaica — in mobile uptake and quality and then says:

Too many networks, not enough investment. The same thing seems to be happening in U.S. broadband policy. The United States, the FCC, the telcos, etc., are making a big deal out of multimodal competition. (The telcos want to keep other people off the poles, outa their fiber, and offa their twisted pairs, so they support the idea — idea — of cable plus wireless plus broadband-over-powerline plus . . . This might be good for the telcos, but will it put the U.S. behind the rest of the developed world for the next 20 years?

And I note this on the FCC’s site today reminding utility-pole owners that they have to provide access to their poles for wireless companies at a reasonable rate.

We’re combing navel lint while the rest of the world is racing ahead of us.

  • Angelos

    Wireless is handy, but the real issue is the last mile. Real speed will only come from wires, ideally fiber.
    While we’ve been hammering the FCC for other reasons, let’s not forget the anti-consumer policies and rulings lately that will just serve to perpetuate the slow expansion of broadband availability. As long as Verizon and the like own the last mile and don’t have to offer access to the lines at decent wholesale rates, they’ll have no competition, and no urge to improve their offerings.
    I’m too far away from a CO to get DSL, but fortunately I have cable modem, and consistently get 3Mbps downloads for $44.95.
    Verizon doesn’t seem the least but interested in expanding their range, and I’m only 5 miles out of town. If there was competition, imagine…

  • We shouldn’t forget that our land-line system was and is the best in the world.
    In Europe, for example, it often took months to get a phone line installed by the government-owned telecoms. In much of the rest of the world, land-line networks existed only in large cities.
    When wireless was introduced it’s not hard to see why it took off instantly. For us it’s a nice convenience, but certainly not in most cases indispensable.

  • Ric Locke

    And watch out for your inner five-year-old. He can be charming and fun, but “are we there yet?” is often counterproductive and always irritating.
    Many years ago I went shopping with a Scots college professor in the US for a short-term assignment. When I suggested that there was a wide assortment of small electrical appliances available, he dismissed the notion; they’ll all be for sixty-cycle power, he noted. His home ran on twenty-five cycle power, and even things that were OK for both sixty and fifty often failed on twenty-five. And when I marveled at that, he noted that his area was among the very earliest to get widespread electrical power — and that there were pitfalls in being the first to have something new widely accepted.
    Oh, I get impatient too — I sometimes describe my status as “aphid on a leaf node;” I can only get dialup, and that rarely over 30K because my access is through a remote node twenty-five miles from me and almost fifty from the parent ISP’s servers. And because of the business and jealousy issues you describe, I’m actually a good bit closer to the servers than the node I use!
    But I would really rather have a delay while the technology issues are sorted out and something that works well is developed and deployed. I regard wireless as a convenience for city folk and a stopgap otherwise — my cellphone works and is useful, but tornadoes, ice storms, and drunken cowboys can shoot it down just when I need it most, while the physical connection “just works.” We won’t really have anything dependable until there are physical connections, and I’m content to sip from the stream and enjoy my occasional visits to less-restricted access until we get them.
    Ric Locke