In 1997, we got DSL from Bellsouth. The jump from dial-up to DSL was exhilarating. It changed our world. Now, in 2007, we still have the same connection speed with our DSL as we did in 1997. I’m weighing changing to a faster cable internet connection, which has a reputation for poor service quality (we have two home businesses that cannot function without a fast connection), versus staying with Bellsouth/AT&T, who provide excellent repair service.
In the excerpts below, Bob Cringely explains why the United States is stuck in the slow lane on the Internet.
Misguided and incompetent regulation combined with utilities that found ways to game the system resulted in what had been the best communication system in the world becoming just so-so, though very profitable. We as consumers were consistently sold ideas that were impractical only to have those be replaced later by less-ambitious technologies that, in turn, were still under-delivered. Congress set mandates then provided little or no oversight. The FCC was (and probably still is) managed for the benefit of the companies and their lobbyists, not for you and me. And the upshot is that I could move to Japan and pay $14 per month for 100-megabit-per-second Internet service but I can’t do that here and will probably never be able to.
Despite this, the FCC says America has the highest broadband deployment rate in the world and President Bush has set a goal of having broadband available to every U.S. home by the end of this year. What have these guys been smoking? Nothing, actually, they simply redefined "broadband" as any Internet service with a download speed of 200 kilobits per second or better. That’s less than one percent the target speed set in 1994 that we were supposed to have achieved by 2000 under regulations that still remain in place.