Broadband: faster but not better

Readers' Views No 242, March 2004
OECD Observer

You back broadband and say that “too many homes and businesses remain mired in the slow download age of first-generation connectivity, unwilling or unable to access broadband” (“Broadband: For a bigger load”, OECD Observer, No 240/241, December 2003).

But who exactly is mired? Perhaps this new toy isn’t selling as well as you’d like, because many people have made a conscious “choice” which the OECD and its constituent governments disagree with. As a business, I rely on the Internet every day and, when I go home, I find it occasionally useful for other information, including some aspects of my children’s homework needs. I have used broadband and, yes, it downloaded my email at a blistering pace. I was able to receive the 94% spam content so much quicker: but this has no effect on the speed at which I can read. I could load web sites in an instant.

How does this improve my quality of life? It doesn’t. Broadband makes things faster, not better. I am sure there are those who find it useful. But “useful” does not equal “necessary”, and many of us have no desire to speed up our lives more than is “necessary”. Why should the invention of ADSL require me to change the pace of my life to suit the profit motives of communications companies or policy objectives of governments? How does the ability and pressure to do more work in the same time and for the same pay benefit us as individuals or achieve a more harmonious and equitable society?

This was written and sent via DOS. Wired? Yes! Mired? I don’t think so.

—David Coleman, Editor & Publisher, HAZNEWS, London, UK

©OECD Observer No 242, March 2004

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