“Americans pay far more and get far less when it comes to the Internet than many other people around the world.”—HuffPo, America Pays More For Internet, Gets Slower Speeds, Than Other Countries
While we dupes here in the U.S. contend with internet service providers fighting for their right to continue offering the least service for the most money, people in other countries have been enjoying faster internet speeds at lower cost for years. In fact, internet users in those countries have developed ways of using the internet we couldn’t even think of, such as:
Grocery delivery—Move over PeaPod and Greenling. In Norway, where they get download speeds of 5GB/sec for $14/month, the clever Nords don’t have to wait for their groceries to be delivered after ordering them online. Now using a 3D bioprinter they can download their groceries directly (after carefully placing a reusable grocery bag under the output chute, of course). Over there, “printing” groceries for a family of four takes around 15 minutes. Contrast that with your house, where downloading a single cocktail onion would take the better part of a day.
Streaming video—A while back I posted a video showing the different download speeds I get on different streaming services. But even my relatively quick Amazon Prime streams pale in comparison to what they get in Peru, where they pay the equivalent of $8/month for 10GB/sec service. There even home users of limited means have banks of monitors, allowing them to watch multiple ultra-high definition streams at once. A Peruvian man recently boasted on Twitter that he watched the entire run of Breaking Bad in 90 minutes. Granted, he probably missed some stuff—he admitted he wasn’t sure who “Heisenberg” was—but still.
Telemedicine—Here, we brag about the latest advances that connectivity has brought to our medical care, such as when a rural hospital is able to fax an x-ray to a big city specialist in just under 9 hours. But let’s look at Albania. There, where users take for granted speeds of 20GB/sec for around $3/month, your doctor can perform a “remote physical” exam on you in real time, via your government-issued tactile sensory responder. (Citizens themselves are responsible for removing and replacing the disposable lubricated rubber finger on the tactile responder after each exam.)
E-Learning—More and more U.S. students are attending college courses online. Sure, the audio and video can be as much as a minute out of sync, making it seem like your professor is a raving schizophrenic. But, hey, at least you can attend class in your PJs, right? Well, screw that. In Tanzania (40GB/sec, $.50/month) you can have a USB3 port installed in your skull that lets you transfer a bachelor’s degree’s worth of knowledge into your brain in just under a minute. (Example reflects liberal arts education. STEM-related degrees may take slightly longer.)