When thinking of exciting new technologies, especially those related to the internet, the United States is often assumed to be at the head of the queue. However, when it comes to high speed internet, America is lagging behind several other countries. In fact, a few laws that have been passed over the past few years are limiting the rights that individuals have to internet access, and will make the world wide web extremely complicated.
Thanks to a new law passed by the United States congress, it is now possible for internet providers to choose how much speed they are providing to particular websites. For example, Time Warner Cable can choose to limit the speed of Netflix’s streaming service, while giving full throttled access to Amazon Instant Video. Their decision would likely be impacted by which service pays them more money.
The shocking fact is that many Americans are not aware that these laws are being passed, and no one is informing them. However, these are real concerns that will impact people’s online lives sooner rather than later. The next time a YouTube video takes forever to load, do not blame the speed of the connection, but the law that allows an internet provider to favor one website over another.
A few years ago, the United States Federal Communications Commission decided that oversight of cable and internet companies was not necessary. Competition, they said, would be enough to ensure that standards were being met. After all, the United States prides itself on being completely capitalistic. However, things have not panned out as those commissions may have expected.
For most people that live in America, they have one or two options for high speed internet. In most cases, it is a major corporation that will provide this service, and may now dictate how they use the internet. The only places were four to five viable options exist are major cities such as New York or San Francisco.
Susan Crawford, an expert on the matter, believes that the United States is at risk of falling further behind the rest of the world in this matter. “Unless somebody.. has industrial policy in mind.. we’ll be a Third World country when it comes to communication.”
Importance of Communications
Communications are vital in the modern world, especially with the internet playing such a vital part in our lives. However, these laws make it difficult for smaller telecommunications firms – found in most major cities – to compete with monopolies and for customers to ensure they are being provided adequate service. How can Americans be expected to compete with the rest of the world if their basic communications services are so heavily controlled by one or two companies?
When comparing America to other countries, such as South Korea or Sweden, it is shocking how far in front they are. For example, $25 can get someone in Stockholm a 1 GB speed internet connection with unlimited data. That speed is 100 times faster than any residential internet plan on offer in the United States.
With so many new types of businesses and jobs opening up through the internet, there is no doubt that Americans should begin to seriously question the politics that have put them in this position.