According to a recent study, the U.S. ranked 31st place on average download speeds around the world. Even more surprisingly, the U.S. came in 42nd with average upload speeds. This falls behind countries such as Belarus, Slovenia and other countries you have probably never heard before. So how did the country that invented the internet fall so far behind?
According to the article, “Why is American internet so slow?”, huge telecommunication companies like Time Warner, Verizon and Comcast have “divided up markets and put themselves in a position where they’re subject to no competition.”
This is largely because of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which allows cable companies to divide and monopolize, thus charging their customers higher prices without investment in internet infrastructure. Fiber optic connections offer faster connections than traditional copper wire, however, they are expensive to build. Verizon stopped building fiber optic infrastructure in 2010, just as other countries were opening the market to competition.
Some argue that Internet service is as close to a human right in the 21st century. At its core, net neutrality is the idea that all data should be treated equally and the internet should be a leveled playing field. This means that Internet users should be able to access any web content they choose without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet Service Provider.
In 2014, the D.C. Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s net neutrality efforts. In February 2015, the FCC passed new Open Internet rules, which were challenged in court. These open internet rules would ensure consumers and businesses access to “fast, fair and open internet.” In this day in age, the FCC ought to treat broadband access like a utility and common carrier. The internet is a dynamic learning tool and should be treated as such a freedom.