For years, two of the most technologically advanced nations have slugged by with broadband, of which if was an Olympic athlete, would probably be beaten by a dead squirrel called Harold. Both the United States and United Kingdom, separated only by monarchy, our stupid accent and a big pond, have been plagued with lack of proper broadband speeds.
Even France is beating the pants off us in broadband speeds. France! C'mon! (Don't panic, as a nation we get on very well with France).
With the help of a UK government agency, and everlasting Obamarama, both nations look set to start to get a total nationwide blanket of broadband service.
The United StatesWith more nuclear weapons than any other nation on the planet, you would have thought a blithering idiot would have at least put aside a little bit of money towards getting broadband rolled out to every home. Then again, you could say that about our previous Prime Minister. The US has an average broadband speed of 4.9mbps, which isn't so bad, enabling you to download a webpage in 2 seconds, a YouTube video clip in around 2 minutes, and a DVD quality video in around 8 hours.
But as always, you'll hear from consumers saying, "it's not fast enough". How bloody fast do you want it? Do you want to be able to hear the broadband whistling through your house? Do you want the screen to emit a shockwave every time load a website? But let's face it, university students will often get the best deal as they're on campuses with gigabit lines hooked into the telephone exchange. The rest of the consumers are stuck downloading on-demand comedy at a rate of a single laugh an hour.
From rather an arrogant perspective, CIO reported that America "owns the Internet" in terms of infrastructure. Maybe so, with a great big green ball of router-ness showing the infrastructure strongest in the North America region. Well, clearly not if the average broadband speed is just under 5mbps.
"America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access"..."believing [they] can get true broadband to every community in America with better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications..."
By utilising the spare waves in the electromagnetic spectrum (the bits of light that exist but we cannot see) will be a great way to bring broadband, "true broadband" to every American on US soil. It is about time, and he's probably the person to get it done. It's already taking off in very rural areas where farmer's wives are indistinguishable from cows... probably.
The United KingdomEngland: the home of warm and foamy ale, aristocratic inbreeding, pronouncing "the" as just mere tutting sound and the occasional comedy public hanging. But as another great nation, once home of the British Empire, we struggle to maintain our "special relationship" with America by dropped packets on our diplomatic late-night Skype calls. Britain's broadband speeds suffer even worse than those of the United States, with half the speed expected on average at around 2.6mbps.
We, as a nation, have bound together in a mass chorus of what we are most talented at - moaning and complaining. We have now been guaranteed by 2012 that every single home in the UK will be given 2mbps broadband at least, and that super-fast fibre optic cable will be expanded in the coming years to spread (literally) light speed broadband to more places on this dingy little island. From 2mbps, to in some places, around 100mpbs. That's thousands of times over in terms of improvement and it's getting better by the day.
ADSL2+, the faster and more promising version of ADSL, which uses copper wires spread out over cities and villages, increases from boringly slow speeds to up to 24mpbs; that is still from the same copper cable. Fibre optic technology will expand this further, but it involves digging up pipes and laying optic cables in existing sewers. I feel sorry for the guys who have to lay the cable...
But with so many people all connecting to ultra-fast high speeds at the same time, will this cause a crash? Antony Walker, CEO of the Broadband Stakeholder Group, spoke to the BBC this time last year:
"Today's networks were designed to be asymmetric (the download speeds are higher than the upload speeds) and didn't anticipate the extent to which peer-to-peer networks and other services would increase upload traffic. The next generation of networks would address this issue providing much higher upload and download capacity."
The next generation of broadband service is more sophisticated, much faster and will have a better infrastructure. It's about time we start embracing change.
Updated: 11:56am GMT, 31st January 2009.