The Bandwidth Crunch

A laptop and iPhone at a coffee shop in Columbia, Mo., in a 2009 photo. (AP)

Fire up your Internet connection or your iPhone in this country, and you are immediately in the middle of a battle over bandwidth.

The United States is trailing many competitors in the speed and ease of connection to the Web. France leaves us in the dust. South Korea leaves us deep in the dust.

And it’s not just about how easily the kids can play online games. The Internet is the base terrain of the 21st-century economy. If you’re fast, you’re in front. If you’re slow, you’re behind.

Now the U.S. is looking at a plan to catch up.

This hour, On Point: American choke point — Internet bandwidth.


Joining us from Washington is Cecilia Kang, technology policy reporter for The Washington Post and author of its blog Post Tech.

From Steamboat Springs, Colo., we’re joined by Tim Wu, professor of law at Columbia University. His piece “Bandwith is the New Black Gold,” appears in the March 11 edition of Time magazine. He’s a regular contributor to Slate, and is the coauthor, along with Jack Goldsmith, of “Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World.”

And from Washington we’re joined by Robert Atkinson, founder and president of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington-based Internet policy lobbying organization. He is former vice president of the the Progressive Policy Institute and the author of “The Past and Future of America’s Economy: Long Waves of Innovation that Power Cycles of Growth.”

Later this hour, we look at the move by cash-strapped states to tax online purchases.  An increasing number of states are trying to collect money any way they can, including on sales taxes from online purchases. New York is doing it now. Many other states are trying to follow in its footsteps.

Joining us from San Francisco is Geoffrey Fowler. He covers technology and e-commerce for The Wall Street Journal.

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