How One Little Cable Company Exposed Telecom’s Achilles’ Heel
Susan Crawford
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Susan is so funny. She’s always complaining about “the dismal state of high-speed internet access in America” but never shows any data to support her claim. Occasionally she’ll share an anecdote about her summer vacation to Sweden, that these tales tend to be pretty laughable.

I recall one where she established the quality of Sweden’s broadband based on Wi-Fi performance in a coffee shop or something equally quaint. Sweden has less than half the population of San Jose, CA, and 80% of Swedes live in apartments. Their winters also last about five months, so they better have good broadband.

The fact of the matter is that web servers can’t transmit faster than 15 Mbps no matter how fast the networks are because of CPU and disk drive constraints. The average broadband speed in the US is at least twice that, and Netflix doesn’t use more than 3–5 Mbps per stream. So no matter how you cut it, network speed is not a problem in the US. You can check my claim with Speedtest Intelligence, Akamai, or the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America reports.

But Susan isn’t one to let mere facts get in the way of a fine little rant.

I sympathize with the dilemma of Cable One’s customers, but I would submit that fixed wireless networks will solve their problem in good time. For the moment, I could complain that my urban housing costs are much higher than the housing costs paid by Cable One’s customers, but I’m not much for whining. I chose to live where I live and I accept the consequences.

I suspect that if I were to ask Cable One’s customers about their issues with infrastructure they might be more likely to complain about their water and sewer services before their wired broadband. But that’s just a guess because more Americans have cable than have public sewer connections.

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