Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: broadband


U.S. can’t stay in the broadband slow lane

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Industrial revolutions can punish their pioneers – and that’s what’s happening to the United States in the world of digital communication.

A country can invent a technology, build an infrastructure around it – then see latecomers refine the technology and build a better infrastructure.

Such has been the fate of America’s broadband communication networks, which are looking distinctly antiquated compared to competitors abroad.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans have “high-speed” Internet connections that operate at estimated average speeds of 3 or 4 megabits per second. In contrast, South Korea has succeeded in offering 100-megabit-per-second broadband to all its citizens. Many other countries have likewise leap-frogged the United States – Japan, Australia, Sweden … the list is long and discouraging.

Hence the need for something like the 10-year “national broadband plan” the Federal Communications Commission offered to Congress this week. Chief among the plan’s goals is to connect virtually all American households to affordable 100-megabit service by 2010.
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Hey, Google, look at us!

I wasn’t the only one who saw a light bulb go on Tuesday night when I read online that Google plans to  set up pilot projects to demonstrate that it can provide ultrafast Internet service currently unavailable commercially in the U.S.

Why not Tacoma? I thought. Tacoma was — and is — a leader in establishing a municipally owned fiber-optic network that enables citywide broadband Internet access.  We might be a perfect candidate for Google’s scheme. I emailed Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Click! Network spokeswoman Diane Lachel to plant a bug in their ears.

They were way ahead of me.  Strickland said she had sent a note over to Tacoma Power, which operates Click!, when she heard the Google news. Lachel said conversations were already underway about whether and how the city should respond.

If we go for it, we’ll have plenty of competition.

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