“America’s Intentional Broadband Duopoly” by Dane Jasper, writing on the blog of Sonic.net Inc., an ambitious Gigabit ISP, is one of the best summaries of why US broadband is the way it is that I’ve read. If you live in the US and use the Internet, it’s worth reading, just to understand why your Internet access options suck so damn badly compared to the rest of the civilized world.
Spoiler Alert: It is not, as telco / cableco apologists sometimes attest, a function of geography or population density — there are ample examples of countries with both more challenging geography or less-dense populations with far better, and cheaper, Internet service. (And the population density is really a red herring when you realize that most of the US population lives in areas that are pretty dense, like the Eastern Seaboard, which is comparable to Europe.) The answer is a sad combination of political lobbying, regulatory capture, and technological false promises.
In case their site goes down at some point in the future, here’s a link to the Internet Archive’s cached version.
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