Welcome to America, the country with the 25th fastest Internet service in the world, just behind Romania, and falling fast. The culprit? Hard to say, but maybe it's got something to do with the FCC's abolition of any sort of competitive markets for Internet service in the USA? Well, I'm sure it'll be fine -- after all, why would Internet access have any effect on national competitiveness, industry, jobs, health, education, civic engagement, and so forth?
Under the Bush administration, the FCC tossed out competitive broadband safeguards such as open-access requirements, which opened lines to other providers. In 2002 the agency declared that high-speed cable Internet access would no longer be considered a telecommunications service that opened the network to competitors, but rather an “information service” that did not. Following a 2005 court decision, the FCC also reclassified broadband delivered by the phone companies as an “information service.”
These were radical policy shifts that went against the long-held assumption that open communications in competitive markets were essential to economic growth and innovation.
While the U.S. blindly followed a path of "deregulation," other nations in Europe and Asia beefed up their pro-competitive policies. The results are evident in our free fall from the top of almost every global measure of Internet services, availability and speed.
Welcome to Your Hungarian Internet
(Image: US Mail, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from stephoto's photostream)
Frontier is the bottom-rung of the top-tier of US ISPs, serving customers in 29 states. Despite enjoying monopoly control over its customers' online lives, and despite massive government handouts and a lackadaisical approach to maintenance, and despite out-and-out theft from customers, the company is filing for bankruptcy, having accumulated $16.3b in debt through mismanagement.
Bruce Schneier's Foreign Policy essay in 5G security argues that we're unduly focused on the possibility of Chinese manufacturers inserting backdoors or killswitches in 5G equipment, and not focused enough on intrinsic weakness in a badly defined, badly developed standard wherein "near-term corporate profits prevailed against broader social good."
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