The internet is an important utility. Everyone has the right to high-speed internet irrespective of geographical boundaries. Sadly, this promise isn’t fulfilled yet. There are many third-world countries where internet access is absent. Big tech companies have this ethical responsibility to ensure that accessibility to the internet remains their topmost priority.
In developing countries like ours, internet access is not a major concern as it is widely available. However, how fast that internet is the question. This is a question discussed on political forums and debates because America has to be better than the rest of the countries on all fronts.
Even then, we are lacking behind in terms of internet speeds. The download speeds are relatively slow. There are many reasons behind this. Moreover, people find it extremely difficult to afford the internet bills every month, especially those that are on social security.
Why is internet speeds relatively slow in the US? How are internet service providers addressing this issue? We will discuss all the questions in this article. Before that, let’s understand how the internet industry works in the United States.
How does the internet industry work in the United States?
Countless internet providers are working in the United States. These providers serve the same function i.e. providing internet to residential and business customers nationwide. However, they differ in how they operate. The difference arises in the connection type, prices, and services offered. There most common connection types are fiber, cable, DSL, satellite, and through a cellular network.
The internet industry is dominated by three companies. These companies include Spectrum, AT&T, and Comcast. These three companies have a presence in more than 42 states in the United States making them the biggest providers in terms of area coverage. The services are not limited to residential but business providers also.
However, most consumers prefer coaxial cable and DSL internet. Spectrum has a network of coaxial cables while CenturyLink internet has a DSL infrastructure offering fairly consistent download speeds.
However, there is a monopoly among all the providers operating in the US. The monopoly is deeply rooted in all the factions of the broadband industry. However, it is important to note that the sluggishness may have some grave consequences economically.
It takes almost seven seconds to download a movie in Tokyo, Paris, Zurich, and Hong Kong. Surprisingly, if you download the same movie with the highest possible internet speed in New York, Los Angeles, and DC, it will take you more than 2 minutes. There is a great disparity in the pricing as well. You will pay $30 in other countries as compared to $120 in the United States.
Why are internet speeds slow?
America has a historic network infrastructure in place. The first one is entirely made up of copper and was originally meant for telephone lines. As time passed by, this network was replaced by a coaxial cable network. It uses the same copper wires in the base but has insulation around it. This ensures seamless connectivity and better signal transmission. However, these methods are still ancient technology.
Therefore, this infrastructure needs to be changed. It all depends on how serious the internet providers and the regulatory authorities are. Fiber internet is still in the pipeline. Fiber internet uses a network of fiber optics. Fiber optics uses glass wires instead of copper to transmit high-speed internet. However, the only drawback is that this installation requires a massive cost. The internet providers are not ready to take this initiative.
Lastly, there are 4 to 5 internet companies in the US that amount to more than 60% of the market share in the broadband industry. These companies have created a monopoly and what prices and download speeds they define, stays the same throughout. These monopolies are a great hurdle to high-speed and affordable internet.
What needs to be done?
There are different approaches to take. However, it makes everything free and fair, America should do what Europe is doing at the moment. The big internet companies that own these modern lines should lease them to other companies. This will create competition in the market and download speeds will get better with every provider, not just the big ones.