Data, say those who process it for a living, expands to fill the space available.
In the same fashion, innovation proceeds at the pace allowed by the infrastructure. Which means the US is screwed.
In Japan, reports the Washington Post, broadband internet access speeds are eight to thirty times faster, not to mention considerably cheaper, and a similar statement applies to South Korea and much of Europe. I recently read about a minor scandal in the UK involving inaccurate claims of access speeds:
…Which? claims that while many [UK] companies advertise speeds of up to 8Mbps (megabits per second) or faster, consumers are achieving an average speed of just 2.7Mbps, while some have experienced speeds as low as 0.09Mbps.
If you’ve ever seen speeds greater than about 2Mbps, or 2000Kbs, please post your ISP’s contact info. In my house we have Comcast cable, and although it’s way faster than our DSL was, the highest speed I’ve ever seen is about 1800Kbps (1.8Mbps), two-thirds of what the Brits are averaging.
Then there’s Japan, where DSL is five to ten times as fast as cable in the US. Apparently we had a hand in that:
The copper wire used to hook up Japanese homes is newer and runs in shorter loops to telephone exchanges than in the United States. This is partly a matter of geography and demographics: Japan is relatively small, highly urbanized and densely populated. But better wire is also a legacy of American bombs, which razed much of urban Japan during World War II and led to a wholesale rewiring of the country.
Another application for the B-2; what foresight we showed in building it!
Problem is, our wonderful bombers are not as powerful as our stupid corporations and their “We’ll do it if you don’t regulate us” shtick.
In 2000, the Japanese government seized its advantage in wire. In sharp contrast to the Bush administration over the same time period, regulators here compelled big phone companies to open up wires to upstart Internet providers.
In short order, broadband exploded. At first, it used the same DSL technology that exists in the United States. But because of the better, shorter wire in Japan, DSL service here is much faster. Ten to 20 times as fast, according to Pepper, one of the world’s leading experts on broadband infrastructure.
Indeed, DSL in Japan is often five to 10 times as fast as what is widely offered by U.S. cable providers, generally viewed as the fastest American carriers. (Cable has not been much of a player in Japan.)
So how did Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. respond?
With the help of government subsidies and tax breaks, NTT launched a nationwide build-out of fiber-optic lines to homes, making the lower-capacity copper wires obsolete.
“Obviously, without the competition, we would not have done all this at this pace,” said Hideki Ohmichi, NTT’s senior manager for public relations.
His company now offers speeds on fiber of up to 100 megabits per second — 17 times as fast as the top speed generally available from U.S. cable. About 8.8 million Japanese homes have fiber lines — roughly nine times the number in the United States.
The burgeoning optical fiber system is hurtling Japan into an Internet future that experts say Americans are unlikely to experience for at least several years.
But we have the best health care system in the world, right?