About 30 years ago this month, some boffins at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Lab at Stanford University decided to set up a website — they wanted to improve how information was exchanged between many international physicists. And that is how the first website in North America was born. We have come a long way since.

87% of U.S. households get an Internet service at home, compared to 83% in 2016 and 69% in 2006 Reports Leichtman Research Group  Broadband accounts for 98% of households with an Internet service at home, and 85% of all households get a broadband Internet service – an increase from 81% in 2016 and 42% in 2006. 

These numbers roughly mirror the data shared by Pew Research earlier in the year. And no matter how you look at it, this is good news. And what’s even better is that according to the latest data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), estimates that 4.9 billion people use the Internet, though not all of them go online frequently and are using the network in drips and drabs. Nevertheless, a ‘COVID connectivity boost’ added 782 million additional people to the total since 2019.

What’s not such good news is the cost of broadband in the United States. According to The Cost of Connectivity, a research report from the Open Technology Institute, the average cost of broadband in the US is about $68.38. That is higher than average prices in large parts of the world.

Blame it on lack of any real competition — cable and phone guys are our only broadband option. And they hate competition, especially from independent or municipal networks. Incumbents do their best to thwart progress.

I am fortunate to have been a customer of Webpass, an independent provider who offered me a gigabit-per-second for about $50 a month. It was acquired by Google Fiber and has started charging more – $59 a month. Considering what I would have either paid Comcast or AT&T, it is still cheaper. The average monthly cost of broadband in San Francisco — $84 a month.

Now, if we could work up plans to replicate the likes of Webpass and Sonic.net across the nation, we might see some serious competition.

December 30, 2021. San Francisco