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Cringely Details Why Your Broadband Stinks

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The $200 billion boondoggle that was meant to deliver high speed digital services to the home by the year 2000 instead left America running to stand still in the world of broadband delivery.

Cringely Details Why Your Broadband Stinks
Cringely Details Why Your Broadband Stinks

Tech pundit Robert X. Cringely took a deeper look at something we’ve noted previously. Thanks to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, telecoms profited handsomely from a broadband future that looks like a pipe dream today.

Cringely noted the efforts to deliver faster broadband services were meant to create a National Information Infrastructure at the federal and state levels. Federal deployment amounted to a mixed bag of success (schools and libraries) and failures (healthcare and public safety).

The state level represents where Americans were taken to the cleaners by an assortment of telecom interests. Per Cringely:

All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia contracted with their local telecommunication utilities for the build-out of fiber and hybrid fiber-coax networks intended to bring bidirectional digital video service to millions of homes by the year 2000. The Telecom Act set the mandate but, as it works with phone companies, the details were left to the states. Fifty-one plans were laid and 51 plans failed.

Failure is not foreign to the information technology business. Big development projects fail all the time and I have written several times about this and how those failures come to be and how they can be avoided. But I find it hard to remember any company or industry segment ever going zero for 51. This is a failure rate so amazing that any statistician would question the motives of those even entering such an endeavor.

Between higher phone rates and tax breaks, the telecom industry pocketed some $200 billion over a ten-year period, 1994-2004. America lags behind much of Europe, not to mention high-speed front runners like Japan and South Korea, in terms of what people pay versus what they get in broadband access.

There’s a word for what America got in this confidence game. Filtering software doesn’t permit me to print it here.

Cringely Details Why Your Broadband Stinks
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