Sadly average Americans don’t seem to be as aware about records that really matter. In another Guinness entry — fastest Internet connectivity — the U.S. doesn’t come close to No. 1. South Korea leads the world with average broadband speeds above 33 megabits per second (Mbps). The U.S. is lethargic by comparison, at only 5 to 6 Mbps. That’s middle of the pack among industrialized countries.
I concede that we’re disadvantaged by having so much land area. It won’t be easy or cheap to lay fiber-optic cable across the Nevada deserts and Kansas plains. The FCC and other industry analysts have speculated a cost of $300 billion or more for universal coverage that would blanket the U.S. with superfast broadband.
It’s little wonder, then, that some smaller countries are ahead of us. For them, deploying broadband nationwide has been cheaper. (South Korea is slightly smaller than Tennessee.)
Coincidentally a broadband deployment in Tennessee is providing early evidence that such investment can pay off. On my recent visit to Chattanooga, I spoke with civic leaders about the city’s 1 gigabit per second network available to all homes and businesses. What I learned is the topic of this issue’s cover story.
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