Where’s my (real) broadband, dude?

Bill St. Arnaud points out this August 29 article from the Washington Post about the development of fiber to the home in Japan, where people can routinely get 100 mbps in their houses and businesses.
The burgeoning optical fiber system is hurtling Japan into an Internet future that experts say Americans are unlikely to experience for at least several years.

Shoji Matsuya, director of diagnostic pathology at Kanto Medical Center in Tokyo, has tested an NTT telepathology system scheduled for nationwide use next spring.

It allows pathologists — using high-definition video and remote-controlled microscopes — to examine tissue samples from patients living in areas without access to major hospitals. Those patients need only find a clinic with the right microscope and an NTT fiber connection.

“Before, we did not have the richness of image detail,” Matsuya said, noting that Japan has a severe shortage of pathologists. “With this equipment, I think it is possible to make a definitive remote diagnosis of cancer.”

Japan’s leap forward, as the United States has lost ground among major industrialized countries in providing high-speed broadband connections, has frustrated many American high-tech innovators.

The article traces the roots of this capacity to the competition in Internet services that was unleashed by the Japanese government requiring the big telcos to open up access to their transport in 2000. A pertinent case study in network neutrality, for sure.

I was at a meeting recently where it was suggested that our rallying cry for municipal broadband should be for a gigabit to the home. Sounds a lot better than the (up to) 12 mbps Comcast is advertising as “high speed”.

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