Digitally Divided

In 2000, a friend visiting in San Francsico asked me what the hubbub was about the so-called digital divide. I explained that it was, at that time, referencing those who had internet access and those who did not. Usually it was in framed in an educational context, whether or not a school had access or a school district had access.

In this house, the digital divide means that we are digitally divided between two monopoly services, both providing crap. A check of Qwest routers in this list shows seven routers down across Chicago, Atlanta and Washington D.C. Not so good. The cable company said a line technician would be out today. That would be the third in the series of line techs and the 7th visit. It’s hard not to feel that divide now in terms of quality of access, rather than access or not. The DSL line seems to have difficulties parsing web pages where content is called from a different host. For example, on this site, the flickr photos come up sometimes and sometimes they don’t. Attempting to open more than a few sites using tabbed browsing results in failed site loads. Those broadband connection sharing routers are looking sweet right about now.

In my last post about our internet connectivity, I brought up Utopia, the Utah fiber project that is wiring fiber to the home and will be an open network for providers to access and sell services over. Consumers and businesses have choices about who provides what to them over a very fat pipe. If your city wants to play. Supposedly, a recent test showed 600Mbps from the Netherlands to the hockey arena here. Don’t know what the hockey arena needs from the Netherlands, but damn, that’s fast. If I were Comcast or Qwest, I’d be all for someone else building the pipes and letting me provide services to customers. The big picture is that Comcast and Qwest don’t have a big picture. I believe their hesitancy is a result of a lot of fiber companies tanking at the end of the boom. Makes ones mind wander to topics like dark fiber availability and other conspiracy theories.

All of that for this: Salon has a great piece comparing the U.S. to other countries.

“How did this happen? Why has the U.S. fallen so far behind the rest of its economic peers? The answer is simple. These nations all have something the U.S. lacks: a national broadband policy, one that actively encourages competition among providers, leading to lower consumer prices and better service.”


“Like so many other challenges faced by the Bush administration, the response to the growing digital divide has been to redefine success and prematurely declare victory.”

It’s not so much a flip flop as a slip slop.