The web may be growing, but in America the physical infrastructure most people use to access it is barely keeping pace. Eighty-five percent of the country is still stuck with cable modem service as its fastest available internet, and if we want to move towards a future of telepresence and widespread streaming video, that's not going to cut it. It's a huge problem for the growth of the web, and in this year's Captive Audience, law professor Susan Crawford laid out how it happened as telecom companies consolidated power and colluded to escape regulation.
"In America, we don't see how badly we're doing."
We sat down with Crawford in her office at Cardozo School of Law to talk about the telecom business, the growth of the web, and why America still isn't as wired as it should be. The telecom monopoly is part of it, but an even bigger problem is that most customers just don't know that better connections are possible, something that recent Google Fiber projects are starting to fix. Since the federal government isn’t interested in fiber, she’s making the case city by city, convincing mayors of the benefits of a wired populace. "We don't make progress until you can see something," she says. "In America, we don't see how badly we're doing."