Broadband nation

I’ve been offline in a UK castle with wi-fi only in the basement (but I suppose that’s a miracle) and then in a Holiday Inn (what a fall) with gawdawful and gawdawfully expensive so-called broadband so I’ll take this opportunity while sitting in the Apple store (bless it) to just join in the chorus of celebration that Barack Obama pledged to fix our gawdawful broadband status in America. Now let’s speculate about just how ambitious we can be.

At the conference I just attended (a few posts on that later, when I can be online for more than two minutes) there was talk of trying to tax broadband providers here to subsidize (or some would say compensate) content creators. I think that’s bassackwards.

If we wanted subsidy, there could be none better than assuring that the entire nation is on broadband. Then all consumers, all content, all advertisers could meet there. It would fast-forward the inevitable. It would spark innovation and jobs and trade and education.

To hell with public-service broadcasting. How about public-service connectivity?

  • janice

    Add to the connectivity a CPB version of internet education. No reason money cannot go into the development and curating of educational resources. I like the idea of connectivity and education going hand in hand. For the amount of money it takes to create one tv series… we need an internet educational library. A lot of it is out there already, a lot could be produced by the educational community, but there needs to be a place to house the info, and organize it.


  • invitedmedia

    first we’ll have to stop the insane bailouts of outdated industries.

    if we continue to support “the past” in the name of jobs, then all we’ll have is blacksmiths w/ broadband.

  • Government expansion is not something to celebrate.

    As you allude, it will happen eventually in the private sector. If left to the private sector it will cost far less and be done more efficiently given the profit seeking nature.

    ~begin sarcasm~
    While Obama is at it, I think the government should subsidize iPods. Everyone should be able to listen to music when they want to, listen to podcasts when they want to, and it would be a boon for the economy! Right!?

    Next, the government should subsidize mobile phones. Everyone should have one. We would be a more connected society and messages would travel faster. Telecom would become huge! Jobs, Jobs, Jobs…Right!?


    The insanity of this is beyond levels of understanding.

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  • There is little that is more annoying or more archaic than paying $10 or $20 for an internet connection in a hotel. that would average out to $600 a month for broadband service, per room!

    They are obviously ripping us off because we have no option. But soon, we should. In the not too distant future those connection charges will go the way of the phone charges in hotel rooms. Who uses the hotel room anymore? Coast to coast wifi would be nice, and when TV reqlinquishes its massive share of the em spectrum, why not replace it with free or ad supported wifi nationally?

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  • There is the risk that we’ll start to see things like this:[email protected]/3084176591/sizes/l/

    I just hope they don’t put everybody out of business and make the filtering mandatory.

  • Bravo, Jeff! I have been appalled by the U.S. plodding and lag in broadband penetration — and now, mobile Internet — for a looong time. I can get better upload/download time on a street corner in some developing countries than I can in a $400-a-night hotel in a big American city. And the airports — more ripping off the consumer. Pay, pay, pay. This is like toll roads vs. free interstate highways. If we want to improve the economic health of this country, improving speed, access and ubiquity of wireless broadband would be a BIG step. The roadblocks artificially created by the private, profit-hungry telecom giants hurt American business — and worse, education. Lack of access in rural America impacts farming and food production. Filtering (censorship) in public libraries is just another roadblock to economic advancement, because it hurts the poorest people in our society.

    I’d love to see Obama set up an Internet task force. Maybe Al Gore would lead it.

  • Tex Lovera

    Amen to Josh.

    Although I would MUCH rather see tax dollars going to broadband than to Public TV. MUCH more useful, and without the politics.

  • I’d like to go back to the early days of NREN (National Research and Education Network circa 1994) with Vint Cerf as captain — and just re-create all the good energy and intentions with 2008 tools. A little money would go a long way to advance education and accessibility to learning along with broadband access for all.

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  • “If we wanted subsidy, there could be none better than assuring that the entire nation is on broadband.”

    Shouldn’t require any subsidy. According to Bob Cringely, we’ve already paid for it:

    “All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia contracted with their local telecommunication utilities for the build-out of fiber and hybrid fiber-coax networks intended to bring bidirectional digital video service to millions of homes by the year 2000. The Telecom Act [of 1996] set the mandate but, as it works with phone companies, the details were left to the states. Fifty-one plans were laid and 51 plans failed…

    “Over the decade from 1994-2004 the major telephone companies profited from higher phone rates paid by all of us, accelerated depreciation on their networks, and direct tax credits an average of $2,000 per subscriber for which the companies delivered precisely nothing in terms of service to customers. That’s $200 billion with nothing to be shown for it.”

  • The reason we don’t have faster broadband reaching more people in the US than we do is that the people don’t care for it. Survey after survey shows that takeup rates for broadband offerings are low, and when The People (can’t say “consumers,” some utopian would object) do buy broadband connections, they buy the lowest speed on the menu.

    So this is another case of the pie-in-the-sky liberals trying to force something on the great unwashed because it’s “good for them,” but the reality is that we’re just talking about a subsidy for the people who already enjoy the fastest broadband around.

    The per-capita rate of broadband penetration in the US is about 7th or 8th in the world, which is about where it should be given our demographics and geography.

    And digital piracy is a real issue, not one to be sneered at by people who don’t make their living from the sale of creative works. We can’t all be professors.

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  • Andy Freeman

    > There is little that is more annoying or more archaic than paying $10 or $20 for an internet connection in a hotel.

    > I can get better upload/download time on a street corner in some developing countries than I can in a $400-a-night hotel in a big American city.

    You’re staying at the wrong US hotels. The cheap hotels and motels have FREE broadband. The expensive ones don’t because folks who will pay $400/night will also pay for broadband. (They’ll also pay “spa” fees.)