What happens in countries where there’s real competition? In the UK, where incumbent provider BT is required to allow competitors to use its wired broadband network, home internet service prices are as low as £2.50 a month, or just over $4. In South Korea, where wireless giants SK Telecom and LG Uplus are locked in a fierce technology battle, customers have access to the fastest mobile networks in the world — up to 300Mbps, compared to a theoretical max of 80Mbps on Verizon that’s actually more like 15 or 20mbps in the real world.
And Americans pay more for these slower wireless speeds than anyone else in the world: in Germany, where customers can freely switch between carriers by swapping SIM cards, T-Mobile customers pay just $1.18 per Mbps of speed. In the US, our mostly incompatible wireless networks lock customers in with expensive handsets they can’t take elsewhere, allowing AT&T and Verizon to charge around $4 per Mbps each and Sprint to clock in at an insane $7.50.
Those two paragraphs are so depressing to me.
So there’s the entire problem, expressed in four simple ideas: the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job. The United States should lead the world in broadband deployment and speeds: we should have the lowest prices, the best service, and the most competition. We should have the freest speech and the loudest voices, the best debate and the soundest policy. We are home to the most innovative technology companies in the world, and we should have the broadband networks to match.
We should stop fucking it up.