By Rob Garver
At any given moment in the U.S., an untold number of citizens sits, seething in impotent rage, staring at computer or television screens that have stopped displaying the content they want because the data their device needs is “buffering.”
Some blame their Internet Service Providers for purposefully slowing down their connection, and in certain cases, they might be true. Others blame the fact that they don’t have access to state-of-the-art fiber optic connections with lightning-fast data transfer speeds – something that, from a purely technical standpoint, is no longer that difficult to provide.
In the end, U.S. broadband consumers are the victims of a combination of historical decisions about how services that pre-date the Internet age by decades would be delivered, and a regulatory culture that – objections from libertarians notwithstanding – isn’t quick to step in and disrupt existing business models.
First, let’s bring things into perspective. U.S. consumers have better Internet access than the majority of people on the planet. That said, there are large swathes of the planet where basic services such as electricity and clean water are hit-or-miss at best, so we probably want to narrow the field a bit, and consider just industrialized countries.
Even under those more favorable conditions, though, it is clear that U.S. broadband consumers pay more for less connectivity than most of their peers in other countries. ...more