President Obama will unveil a plan to bring America’s Internet up to speed in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 20.
I am very excited, because I have personally experienced the fastest internet in the world. From 2005 to 2009, I lived in South Korea, where I taught English in universities. Americans don’t really realize this – but our internet is incredibly slow compared to many developed countries. In South Korea, if you have a machine with decent processor speed, the internet doesn’t seem to load. It just appears before you the instant after you click. Americans deserve the same.
Think about when you click on your favorite websites. You probably have to wait a few seconds while page content, then videos, and maybe ads, load up. When you click on the scroll bar, you might have to wait half a second before it responds to you dragging it down. In South Korea, the internet is just there, ready to use, with no waiting.
At number one in the world, South Korea’s internet loads at 24.6 Mbps. America’s internet speed is 14th in the world, at 11.4 Mbps. It doesn’t have to be like this. Americans could have the fastest internet in the world with the right planning and investment.
The president argues compellingly that this is not just about faster videos and games. Businesses can lose customers, and international trade can be slowed by America’s sluggish internet. Investing in speedy internet would give American small businesses a jolt, which would ultimately mean more jobs here in the US.
Obama plans to highlight Cedar Falls, Iowa, a town of only 40,000, that has invested in high-speed broadband, accessible cheaply for any individual and business in town. Cedar Falls has internet speed 100 times the national average. Obama will argue that with the right investment, towns and cities across the country could have the same 21st Century internet.
I remember returning to the US from my time in South Korea, and experiencing severe reverse culture shock because of how frustrating it was to try to do research on the internet. I had easily gotten used to South Korea’s futuristic broadband. Because in Korea, the future of communications, is the present. America used to define the future by making it the present. Under Obama’s leadership, the US could regain that status.
As the South Korean people and government understand, the nature of the world economy is only going to become increasingly wired and information-driven over the course of this century. America requires Obama’s future-oriented planning to remain competitive, and honestly, to catch up to much of the world.