Scientific American bashes broadband

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The current issue of Scientific American, not exactly famous for its polemics, has some very unkind things to say about the current state of broadband:

“The average Canadian household has to pay an exorbitant amount of money for an Internet connection that the rest of the industrial world would find mediocre. … Broadband Internet service in Canada is not just slower and more expensive than it is in tech-savvy nations such as South Korea and Japan; Canada has fallen behind infrastructure-challenged countries such as Portugal and Italy as well.

“The consequences are far worse than having to wait a few extra seconds for a movie to load. Because broadband connections are the railroads of the 21st century—essential infrastructure required to transmit products (these days, in the form of information) from seller to buyer—our creaky Internet makes it harder for Canadian entrepreneurs to compete in global markets. … It was not always like this. A decade ago Canada ranked at or near the top of most studies of broadband price and performance.”

The piece goes on to explain that there is no real competition in broadband, outside the cable-telco duopoly, and yet the regulator is prepared to do little to bring in either regulation or serious competition – despite acknowledgement by federal authorities that our broadband market has become an international joke.

… O.K., I cheated. The excerpted sentences in the quote are verbatim – but I replaced “U.S.” and “American” in the original by “Canada” and “Canadian” in this version. Otherwise, it fits our situation like a glove – except that a decade ago, we (read Canada) were way ahead of the Americans on broadband penetration. Now it’s a race to the bottom for our two great countries.

The full version of the editorial – Why Broadband Service in the U.S. Is So Awful – is here.

D.E.