Travel around the developed world and a commonality will begin to emerge. The United States, the country that invented and fostered the internet is falling well behind others in average DSL speeds. Even our high speed internet often lags behind the median of other countries’ systems. How could the sole remaining superpower be so far behind in such a critical field?
Of course, there are some elements that can be explained through geography and other factors. It is harder to get an average speed up in a country of more than 3.6 million square miles compared to South Korea’s 39,000. Urbanization is at a different pace and geography than other countries, which also explains some of the reasons.
However, the United States’ policies and future policies have severely impacted the speed of our internet downloads. Other countries have been able to develop freer community based internet, as reported by Vice News. Romania’s communal system has enabled pockets of super high speed internet for quick data sharing and an easy hook up into wider systems. Even Europe’s entire system appears that it will not be nearly as over regulated as the United States’ will soon be under Net Neutrality, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Creating artificial barriers on competition and the free exercise of information will cause many problems. In the same manner of how the FCC can regulate the TV and radio waves, such shows of government control can now be used on the internet. In the supposed interest of stopping pirates and criminals, the idea of free expression could now be subjugate to the will of unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
Rather than making the internet freer and with wider access, Net Neutrality may do what it did for the railroads that became nationalized. As reported in the Washington Post, the state and federal regulation of railroads wound up destroying the spread and profitability of these lines, making them more rigid and expensive for taxpayers.
There are plenty of models on how to build a sustainable and open internet for the United States to borrow from. However, rather than borrowing from the successful free market models of these other countries, the United States is more apt to use a top down, one-size-fits-all approach that worked horribly for France in the form of Minitel. Let’s make the internet fair and free, not beholden to government special interests and censors.
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