Broadband in US

The New York Times has a commentary by Dan Mitchell on the US lag in broadband infrastructure:

The Bush administration’s policies, or lack thereof, have since allowed Asia – Japan in particular – to not only catch up in the development and expansion of broadband and mobile phone technology, but to roundly pound us into the dirt. “The lag,” Thomas Bleha diplomatically asserts, “is arguably the result of the Bush administration’s failure to make a priority of developing these networks.”

Japan instituted what used to be called an industrial policy, which provided incentives for expanding broadband and wireless technology to the masses. The United States, meanwhile, has done essentially nothing. Japan is now well ahead of us in the percentage of homes with broadband. And their broadband on average is about half the price and 16 times the speed of ours.

Japan is even further ahead in mobile telephony. “U.S. mobile phone service remains awful by European, let alone Japanese, standards,” writes Mr. Bleha, who served as a Foreign Service officer in Japan for eight years and has a forthcoming book on the subject.

Meanwhile, Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries are poised to leap ahead of the United States in any number of areas: teleconferencing, telecommuting, remote medical services, distance education, multimedia entertainment.

Wonder what Dan would have to say if he came to India where a few kilobits per second (256 Kbps on paper) is being pushed as broadband!

India has an amazing opportunity to be at the forefront — if only we can get our broadband infrastructure right.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.