Monday, October 28, 2013

American exceptionalism: Broadband edition

Posted By on Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 6:52 AM

click to enlarge BBC
  • BBC
Many friends surf the net for items of interest so I don't have to. One such nugget that turned up in the morning mail is a report on BBC on the high cost of home broadband service in the United States.

At high speeds, it costs three times as much in U.S. cities as it costs in England and France and five times as much as in South Korea.

Why?

Monopolies.

Although there are several national companies, local markets tend to be dominated by just one or two main providers.

"We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight."

Two-thirds get their broadband via their television cables, she says, because the DSL (digital subscriber line) service provided by phone companies over copper lines can't compete with cable speeds, while wireless and satellite services are subject to low usage caps.

Some spotty options exist around the country. In Kansas City, where Google is backing a high-speed wireless program, you can get a somewhat slower service for free for seven years after a $300 one-time charge. Government options also can be cheaper, where available.

About 150 cities across the US have internet access supplied by public utility companies. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, electricity company EPB became an internet service provider four years ago. After expanding its existing fibre network which it used to control the grid, it now offers a one gigabit service for $70 a month.

...In Lafayette, Louisiana, $35 can get you 15Mbps from the municipal internet service. But only one in 10 US cities have public electricity utilities and 19 states have discouraged or banned communities from building these networks, says Mitchell.

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