Peter Suderman questions whether Japan's broadband is really 8-to-30 times faster than ours.
The article he references is a little misleading; it compares the best broadband available in Japan (100 mbps) to the average in America. But America has fiber to the home to, and the comparison is considerably less invidious; we just have less of it, because it takes longer to build out a fiber network for a country with an average population density of less than 3000 people per square mile, than it does in a country where the population density hovers around 12,500 people per square mile. The article spends a lot of time focused on telecoms policy, when awesome telecoms policy is not going to give us better geographical conditions, or a newer copper network.
That said, better telecoms policy would give us competition for services, something sorely needed. Forget high speed internet; how come the government protects Comcast's right to be my sole provider of surly, desultory cable service? These days, it seems like the only hope is that the cable companies and the baby bells will meet on some windy plain, like Mothra and Godzilla, and destroy each other.
Update I grabbed the density figures off an internet site, and either read them wrong, or used a bad site. Commenter Internet Ronin says:
For the record, according to the United Nations, the correct numbers for population density for the United States and Japan in 2005: 31 people per square kilometer in the United States and 343 people per square kilometer in Japan. Japan ranks #30 out of 230 nations/territories while the United States ranks #172.
That doesn't change the point, of course; in fact, it rather augments it. But accuracy counts.