Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Our Internet service is terrible

April 29, 2010

Our Internet service is bad—really bad, according to two researchers at the New America Foundation, a think tank chaired by Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Writing in Slate.com, Sascha Meinrath and James Losey assert that we Americans spend a lot and get precious little for the dollar.

We pay an average of $35 per month for a connection with only 1 megabit per second. Denmark and Canada, for example, pay less for twice the speed.

Speeds here also are sluggish. Americans pay $145 a month for top residential speeds of 50 Mbps. Several top countries have speeds four times faster at less than $60 a month.

Feeling good yet? Add this to the lament: Other countries have adopted broadband on a larger scale.

American broadband execs boast of some of the highest penetration rates in the world. But Meinrath and Losey note that the execs avoid mentioning adoption rates. The reality is that lots of Americans have access to broadband but relatively few actually use it, probably because of the high cost.

The authors go so far as to call Verizon CEO Ivan Seiderberg and his peers hucksters for spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbying to confuse the issue with “bogus” information.

Why the mess? Too little competition, and confusing information that makes comparison shopping difficult, Meinrath and Losey contend.

Unless the Federal Communications Commission dictates that all Internet service providers offer a “broadband nutrition label” to ease decision-making, collect better information on available services, and usher serious competition into the industry, the researchers say “the United States could end up on the wrong side of the international digital divide.”

What are your thoughts? Do Meinrath and Losey overstate the situation, or are they being too nice? And how do you like Comcast, BrightHouse, AT&T or other ISPs in the Indianapolis area? Are you happy with your service?

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