In an age where people can not only work, socialize and shop online is it really surprising that the public was outraged by the fight for net neutrality. As I have discussed in previous blogs, the internet can act as someone’s livelihood, so when the public began flooding the FCC’s website with comments on the FCC’s proposed plan to allow online companies to pay more for “internet fast lanes” caused the website to crash.
The FCC plan essentially made it so very few would have access to faster internet that would only benefit the wealthier corporations. “This portends a future Internet where the 1% get to drive on the fast lane and the 99% are left in the slow lane,” warned Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner. In an time where corporations are given the same rights as people, it’s not really surprising to see that the government was willing to benefit big business.
Interestingly enough American internet is not great. American internet users will tell you the its not great but when compared on an international scale, the U.S. is looking pretty lousy. According to this study, the U.S. is ranked at a measly 31 for internet download speeds, even Estonia is faster than the U.S. American upload speeds are even more depressing, Lesotho is faster than the U.S.
Americans can blame corporations for their internet lags and the never ending loading circle of doom. Susan Crawford argues that “huge telecommunication companies” such as Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and AT&T have “divided up markets and put themselves in a position where they’re subject to no competition.” Without this competition the big internet providers can provide subpar internet service and without a better alternative consumers are expected to just deal with it.
“We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we’ve seen enormous consolidation and monopolies… Left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight,” Crawford said.
Why is this continuing to happen? Why haven’t American internet users rose up to claim their better internet? Maybe they’re used to it. Maybe they’re unaware of how U.S. internet ranks internationally. Maybe they don’t expect America to be number one for anything other than incarceration rates. I really don’t know, but perhaps if the corporations were more regulated than U.S. internet could be better. Like the Newsroom clip I included in this article states, “America is not the best, but it could be” (I’m linking it again because I really enjoy the Newsroom).