But a new report on global broadband shows that the country that invented the Internet, the microchip, and most of what makes our global digital village possible ranks a pathetic 18th in broadband speeds. The top spot is taken, as usual, by South Korea, where their smoking fast connections give them an average speed over three times as fast as what our pokey little modems give us. We also don't score too well when it comes to broadband penetration (the proportion of households that have broadband, as opposed to the actual speed people are getting). Our slow broadband is also really expensive. So that's nice.We trail countries like Romania, Sweden and the Czech Republic. And on a year-to-year basis, all the countries in the top 10 saw a boost in speed. Ireland topped the list with a 73 percent gain. What about the United States? We were hit by a 2.4 percent decline in speed.
Waldman says they are multiple reasons we lag so far behind, but "the most important one is probably that we don't have enough big government. With a combination of public infrastructure investments and regulations forcing ISPs to share lines, other countries have driven down prices and driven up speeds."
Republicans have been too busy giving tax breaks to the rich and taking care of their corporate cronies over the past couple of decades to care about our public infrastructure. Thankfully, the stimulus bill President Obama signed in February provides $7.2 billion for projects that will increase the spread of broadband. He also instructed the FCC to come up with a plan to achieve universal high-speed access.
Those are good first steps, but something also needs to be done about bringing the price down or making it available for free to low income individuals. Voters depend on the media for information about our democracy and that information shouldn't be limited only to those who can afford to buy it.