That is correct, boys and girls. In France, one can get broadband with speeds that make Comcast and others look like dial up. HDTV, unlimited long distant and international calling plus wireless Internet come for the bargain basement price of $33 a month. In the US, costs would run you three to five times as much. But there is more to this story than just high pricing here in the US. It is that we are losing out technological edge to other countries. The US has lagged behind many countries in Europe for so long, we seem to have just excepted this.

In a New York Times opinion piece it further stated that:

Affordability is the hard part — because there is no competition pushing down prices. The plan acknowledges that only 15 percent of homes will have a choice in providers, and then only between Verizon’s FiOS fiber-optic network and the local cable company. (AT&T’s “fiber” offering is merely souped-up DSL transmitted partly over its old copper wires, which can’t compete at these higher speeds.) The remaining 85 percent will have no choice at all.

Existing local companies argue that they deserve control over a market because they’ve sunk enormous amounts of money into digging trenches and laying cables for their telecommunications network. And to be fair, it is expensive. But other countries are exploring creative ways for competitors to share the costs and risks of fiber investments, sometimes coupled with public investment, so that incumbent companies can accommodate competitors without unnecessarily hamstringing themselves.

But without a strong commitment to open access, things will get worse. Because of the high price of laying their own next-generation fiber optics, would-be competitors like AT&T and Qwest have largely abandoned their goal of bringing fiber to the home, leaving the highest-speed tiers to the cable companies.

So there you have it. Unless the FCC and the feds can generate competition and interest in providing faster broadband, we must be prepared to suffer the consequences. The remainder of the world will continue to improve while we languish and get further and further behind.

Comments welcome.

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