Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The general public is unaware of Internet policy issues and their impact

Geoff Daily just wrote a blog post explaining most people do not understand broadband or bandwidth. As an example, he told about a friend who did not know how his apartment was connected to the Internet and was

pretty much totally oblivious to this language of bandwidth, bits, and bytes. And he certainly doesn't know anything about bandwidth caps or traffic shaping
His friend had invited a dozen people with laptops to his apartment for an online fantasy football draft -- would there be sufficient bandwidth? Would the extra usage exceed a cap and cause an unexpected jump in his Internet bill?

More important, most of the general public is unaware that US broadband connectivity is slow, asymmetric and falling behind that of other developed nations. As shown below, by last year the US had fallen to 11 th among OECD nations in broadband connectivity per capita, and we had very little fiber installed.

What are the implications of lagging connectivity in the US for our quality of life and economy? If all of the freeways in the US were two lane streets, would that effect the quality of your life? Would it effect the economy?

How fast is your Internet connection at home? To your cell phone? Do you have unlimited usage or does your bill increase when you exceed a cap? Does your connection bog down when more than one person in your home is online? Could two people watch a low-resolution TV show without pauses and glitches? Could you watch an HD movie?

For more on Daily's views on bandwidth and bandwidth requirements, click here.


  1. E. Webb2:31 PM

    When it comes to internet policy issues and their impact, I guess you could label me as the "general public". I never give much thought to broadband width or any other technical terms. I figure that it is best to leave technology issues in the capable hands of the professionals. Of course, when a problem occurs and I have to deal with a technician, my ignorance reveals itself. Bottom line, we could all benefit from educating ourselves when it comes to technology.

  2. Latoya Hightower10:41 AM

    I definately found this blog very insightful. I'm a CIS major and didn't know much about the topic. I always assumed the US was ahead of other countries in technology, etc but to find out that we are 11th is a total shock. The are three computers in my household and this article has made me wonder if sometimes that has to do with my connection. I notice that it sometimes runs a little slow. I definately believe that I need to update myself on internet policy and the impact. Kudos on this eye catching post.