A couple of recent reports from Free Press and Ovum consulting reveal a couple dramatic trends in broadband penetration and access. Ovum issued a report on September 4 which shows that within a year China will soon be the largest broadband market, with 79 million users in 2007 and 179 million in 2010. No wonder the chinese bloggers keep knocking off the English blogs from the top spots on Technorati. The United States, in comparison has about 84 million broadband users, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project .
Meanwhile, Free Press issued a study called "Broadband Reality Check II" that shows that American’s pay more for megabits per second than many other industrial countries, twice what the Japanese pay. Which means that most working families in America can’t afford reliable, always-on access to the net. This is partly due to the lack of competition in the US broadband market, as over 40 percent of U.S. ZIP codes have one or fewer DSL or
cable modem providers providing service.
"President Bush set a goal of bringing universal, affordable high-speed
Internet access to every household by 2007," said S. Derek Turner,
research director of Free Press and author of the report. "We’re
nowhere close to reaching that goal. Yet the FCC seems content to
ignore the problem, manipulate the data, and pretend we’re moving
None of should surprise anyone in New York.
Our broadband cable internet bill at home is ridiculous. We pay $100 a month to Time Warner Cable, which along with Verizon are the only two viable broadband providers in the city. We tried to downgrade to their "cheaper" service at $70 a month, but that only gets you measly 128 kbps upstream, which was deadly for uploading videos or other rich media to the web, which we do a lot in my household.
Time Warner’s broadband internet packages are bundled with a ridiculous number of cable TV channels, none of which I ever plan on watching. Niche ethnic media, hundreds of sports channels, home shopping channels, channels that only seem to run various flavors of "Law and Order," etc. At a consumer level, I would love it if Congress mandated cable companies to offer more al la carte cable packages.
Some of my media activist colleagues tell me that a la carte cable is bad because it takes funding away from education and public programming like CSPAN and cable access. But it galls me to have to pay so much when I access so little of it.