Our Futuristic Data-Net Is In Trouble

For a long time, I've been reading about the national "data-net" that will provide news, information and so much more to all of us. The term "data-net" is John Brunner's, from his 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider, popularizing and expanding on the ARPANET idea that came alive in late 1969.

Older readers have been waiting even longer; Murray Leinster's marvelous story A Logic Named Joe was published in 1946. In the story, the idea of the Carson circuit (which corresponds to the idea of an URL) and the tanks (which correspond to networked servers) pretty much sets out the whole idea of a national data network for use by everyone.

However, there are several studies that suggest that the U.S. is far behind countries like Japan. These studies suggest that it would take a century at current rates for the U.S. to catch up to broadband speeds in Japan.

It has been speculated by some writers that bandwidth is a resource that is being artificially manipulated for profit by corporations.

Just as the industrial revolution depended on oil and other energy sources, the information revolution is fueled by bandwidth. If we aren't careful, we're going to repeat the history of the oil industry by creating a bandwidth cartel...

In the United States and in most of the world, a monopoly or duopoly controls the pipes that supply homes with information. These companies, primarily phone and cable companies, have a natural interest in controlling supply to maintain price levels and extract maximum profit from their investments – similar to how OPEC sets production quotas to guarantee high prices.

I don't know about you, but I've been feeding on the idea of a national data network for at least the last thirty years; I don't like the idea of monopolistic companies holding it out of my reach here in the United States.

In rereading, I see that this is more of a rant than an article; let me know what you think.

Read more in U.S. Broadband Speeds Too Darn Slow; Adoption Hits 7-Year Low and What bandwidth addiction will cost.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/13/2008)

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