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Why Is America’s Internet So Slow?

Posted on Feb 14, 2013
Moyers & Company

“We’re stuck with ... old-fashioned technology,” Bill Moyers says, “because, as [communications law expert] Susan Crawford explains, our government has allowed a few giant conglomerates to rig the rules, raise prices and stifle competition. Just like Standard Oil in the first Gilded Age a century ago.”

Crawford, who teaches communications law at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York City and is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, is the author of “Captive Audience,” a new book on how companies like Comcast have rigged the telecommunications market to gouge the American people for second-rate Internet access while the rest of the world leaps ahead.

“Captive audience?” Moyers asks Crawford. “Who’s the captive?”

“Us. All of us,” Crawford responds. “What’s happened is that these enormous telecommunications companies, Comcast and Time Warner on the wired side, Verizon and AT&T on the wireless side, have divided up markets, put themselves in a position where they’re subject to no competition and no oversight from any regulatory authority, and they’re charging us a lot for Internet access and giving us second-class access.”

The U.S. is “in the middle of the pack when it comes to both the speed and cost of high-speed Internet access,” Crawford says. “In Hong Kong right now you can get a 500 megabit symmetric connection that’s unimaginably fast from our standpoint for about 25 bucks a month. In Seoul, for $30 you get three choices of different providers of fiber in your apartment. And they come in and install in a day because competition’s so fierce. In New York City there’s only one choice, and it’s 200 bucks a month for a similar service. And you can’t get that kind of fiber connection outside of New York City in many parts of the country.”


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