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Miserable broadband in US – why is this not a big story?


If you don’t haz broadband you don’t haz convergence, duz u? Thanks to the still-young site Ground Report, I came across the Communication Workers of America Speed Test. Try it out, it’s a great way to drive home what my fellow fellow David Weinberger pointed out earlier this week: the US is in 15th place (out of 30 developed countries) in broadband penetration and far from the top in any number of other measures.

The US? In 15th place in something as important to our economy as broadband? Naturally the mainstream media everywhere are abuzz with this story, demanding answers from our elected officials, etc. Um, NOT. Searches on Yahoo and Google News turned up exactly TWO articles on the sites of general interest publications (not counting BusinessWeek and several computer/tech publications): The San Francisco Chronicle covered it on its Tech Chronicles blog, and the Capital Times, in Madison, WI ran an article, with an actual byline. Bravo, Capital Times! Both quoted the media reform folks at Free Press.

So will participatory media pick up the slack? So far, doesn’t look like it. (I would love to be proven wrong) Isn’t this a perfect issue (geeky and political and yet ultimately affecting Joe Couch Potato too) that “the” blogosphere (or rather, a couple of the multitude of blogospheres) should be up in arms about, forcing traditional media and ultimately politicians to pay attention? Where is a celebrity blogger when we need one? (If you are one, the OECD data is here; interesting resources also at the Information Technology & Information Foundation.)

I shall be supporting the Communications Workers Speed Matters campaign while waiting for the public outcry to start.

Photo: Darren Hester for CC:Attribution-NonCommercial

tags: OECD, broadband, Free Press, Communications Workers of America

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  1. yvette

    May 23, 2008 @ 9:40 pm


    It also amazes me that the speed of “high” speed Internet is not that high.

  2. Sean Doherty

    May 24, 2008 @ 2:17 am


    I’m not sure what you mean by “convergence.” The only convergence above is your merger of two separate issues: (1) broadband speed and (2) broadband penetration in the U.S.

  3. Persephone Miel

    May 24, 2008 @ 8:23 am


    Sean – Sorry for the confusion, I meant the “convergence” the broadcast folks talk about, i.e., your computer becoming your television (and your radio, and your telephone and your photo album, etc.) As for the other, you’re quite right that I didn’t lay out the two separate issues — I read the reports to say that the US has a crappy record on BOTH speed and penetration and would love to see more media/public attention to both. Do you disagree? I’m not nearly informed enough on the tech or policy sides to explain the issues fully, and it’s not really the focus of this site. I’m just highlighting the lack of coverage by people who could explain. Make sense?

  4. » Does the Iranian Government Intentionally Limit Access to High Speed Internet Connections? I&D Blog

    August 21, 2008 @ 7:42 pm


    […] enable many Web 2.0 applications and video downloads, including here in the US, as Persephone Miel notes. Cost of course also continues to be an issue that limits access in Iran. The article also argues […]