Chattanooga, TN, and Google have said super-fast Internet speeds are coming (source).
The United States is harbinger of all great industrious entrepreneurs, and the breeding ground of free-flowing information, right? Not if you look at the numbers.
Fastest Internet in the World:
The U.S. does not even make the Top 10; the U.S. ranks 24th (source)! This might not be too horrible if the 23 other countries were Luxembourg, Japan and Dubai. Japan is on the list. But what about the other countries with the fastest Internet?
Interesting Countries Above the U.S.:
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ukraine, and the top contender, South Korea.
Most of the countries that outperform the United States are recent victims of economic ruin and civil war. The United States, which has not seen actual war within its borders in over a century (sans Pearl Harbor), and is the largest, strongest country in the world, is 24th on a list of fastest Internet behind former Communist countries and countries still labeled as part of the “developing world.”
Communists get the Government to Pay:
Not true. Some will argue that former Communist countries and welfare states like Denmark and Switzerland have faster Internet because the government subsidizes it.
That argument might work if only South Korea or Japan, or even Germany for that matter, were in any way communist or socialist. The truth is, South Korea and Japan have weaker welfare systems than the United States.
Also, the United States subsidizes plenty of its industries. Not only industries like steel but also social services like electricity, sewage, water, and to a lesser degree, health care. The United States is not opposed to subsidies, so why the huge gap?
Companies Don’t Think You Need Faster Internet:
Robert D. Atkinson, head of ITIF, doesn’t see why any company would want 1 GB of Internet speed.
Assuming Americans are only interested in movies, music, and games, in a family of four, if lil’ Johnny is on a computer playing a bandwidth intensive game like WoW, mom is downloading pictures of her cute nieces in Chattanooga, dad is watching JFK on Netflix.com, and lil’ Susie is downloading the latest pop singles all at once, you can see how bandwidth can matter.
Then, if Google is correct in banking on “cloud computing” being the new thing, all information will be online. Hospitals will need faster bandwidth. Games will not be able to become more complex without more bandwidth.
Why This Matters to the United States:
First, if Americans truly want choice, they are not given it. Would you like 1 GB Internet Speed? Tough. The technology is there. Google and Chattanooga are proving that. You have no choice in the matter.
Second, Chattanooga is considering charging upwards of $350/mo for 1 GB of Internet speed. Does that sound like information for the masses? Companies can create $100 laptops. Libraries can afford decent Wi-Fi. But if you want to utilize the Internet for little more than chatting and Facebook games, well, my friend, you will just have to wish upon a wealthy star.