George Bush always had more time to devote to getting wardrobe malfunctions off TV than bringing up America’s access to the Internets to the standards the rest of the world enjoys.
Now that a little more sense seems to prevail in the government, the FCC has drawn up its vision for pulling the country up into the 21st century. And it envisions Internet access as the main method the country communicates – not television, and not the telephone.
Just the Internet. Not that such a great industry shake-up is going to go down easily. A new plan like this is bound to get the established majors all worked up for how it challenges their positions in the business. According to the new plan, the government will be completely focused on bringing broadband services to the countryside, rural parts of the country that don’t have access right now.
The government also plans to set off the development of a new kind of set-top box that will do it all for remote places – cable, Internet, and anything else. Rural areas are also going to get better cell phone services.
These plans could not come a day sooner; fully one third of all Americans have no access to broadband services. Still, each one of these plans is going to be fought out tooth and nail as the established players come to feel threatened.
What use is it that the country that gave the world the Internet, most of modern computer technology and most of the world’s greatest software, doesn’t have the means to take it to the large parts of its own land?
The average speed of individual broadband services in the country is about 1.3 Mbps. The FCC wants to raise that to 100 Mbps for a third of the nation, over the next ten years. And it wants to reserve a large part of the wireless spectrum for the experimental technologies of the future. The government feels that pretty soon, rural areas will be able to access great online learning materials on tap.
With information so widely available, they feel it will put America back on top. Most of the country can’t wait for it to happen. Google for instance has a plan to wire several cities in the country with such ultra-high-speed broadband access already.
There are cities across America that are trying to bob up into Google’s line of sight to get on Google’s list – several of those cities are renaming themselves to be called Google City.
Right now in America, we need to pay about $30 a month for the miserable 1.3 Mbps we get. Over in Japan, the same money will buy you 8Mbps and it’s even higher than that in South Korea. All the cable and telecom operators in this country, when they laid down their fiber optics, earned valuable tax breaks for their investment in the country’s infrastructure.
If they can’t use it for the betterment of the country now, if they can only use their investments to overcharge and underserve the country in broadband services, the government should just obtain eminent domain – the government order that private property be sold to it for the betterment of the country.