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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Playing catch up to Europe again

      We have become used to having to catch up with Europe when it comes to social issues.  Marriage equality and the right to die are just two examples of this.  This also is the case with health care and the cost of prescriptions.  We pay more and get less than many other western countries.  Another area with us not keeping up was brought home to me recently.
      I recently talked with someone who had recently returned from Europe and was telling me about how amazingly fast the internet is in Europe.  The wifi at the hotel they were staying at had a speed of 100/100 Mbps or about four times the speed of what we have offered to us in the United States.  In Europe internet service is considered a public utility and regulated on both service offered and cost.  As a result the governments are able to negotiate collectively for better service and cost.  We here let the limited number of companies available to us tell us what we can get and what it will cost.
       The European weather predictions have been more accurate because of more powerful computer systems.   Europe is also much more advanced on developing "smart cities."  So why are we left with what Verizon and Comcast offers us inferior service at inflated prices?  Maybe it is overdue for local jurisdictions to look at internet service as a public utility.    What Howard County completed 18 months ago in running broadband fiber optic lines to be used for government, schools and public safety should be expanded to include residential users as a public utility.


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