Thursday, June 28, 2007

FTC shoots down net neutrality

People argue about whether the actions proposed by net neutrality proponents are the best choices, but not many will fight you when you say that something is wrong. The Federal Trade Commission denies that there is a problem.

For being the largest consumer of the tubes, you would think that the US would be on the bleeding edge of network technology. In fact, we a near the end of the tail, with many still passing us. The current median connection speed in the US is 1.97 Mb/s, while Japan flies around with 61 Mb/s. They're over half way to the triple digits while we still haven't made the double digits.

As a developed nation, and a leading one at that, it is embarrassing to see how pathetic this country is. It is sad that we are cheering for a 5Mb/s average. And for what do we blame this: cheap (not price) ISPs.

People are generally satisfied with their 2Mb/s connection because nobody knows any differently. Since ISPs started, the high-speed offerings have changed very little. In the past five years, Charter has gone from 3Mb/s to 5Mb/s. I have even noticed them throttling YouTube. And all of this is because ISPs don't want to upgrade their networks. We are at the same place we were at five years ago.

But things can change. Years ago, long-distance phone calls were extremely expensive. Now, the cost is negligible. How did this happen, phone companies have to compete. Cable companies do not. What we need is something to force the internet carriers to innovate. That "something" should be congress.

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