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Hey America! We're Ranked #16 in Broadband!

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Q: Do you live in America?

If you answered, "yes," you can proceed directly to the "You live in a country ranked 16th in the world in broadband penetration, speed and price" section below.

You live in a country
ranked 16th in the world in broadband penetration, speed and price.

It's true.
The U.S.
ranks an average of 16th in the world
in these three categories. That puts
us behind countries like Portugal (15th), Belgium (9th) and Denmark (2nd), whose
residents enjoy greater access to a faster, cheaper Internet than Americans do.

There's one core reason for our poor global performance. As
journalist Rick Karr explained
in his film on the state of broadband
in Europe, a simple "game changer" --
competition -- leads to better broadband.

But competition in the U.S. broadband market is virtually
nonexistent. That means that millions of Americans live without high-speed
Internet access, and those who do have
it experience slower speeds and higher prices than their European counterparts.

Most U.S. residents have a choice of only one cable
provider, with slower DSL and satellite providing a cheap
façade of competition
. Big broadband companies are all too happy to point
to this "competition" whenever they're asked why they've been allowed to become
quasi-monopolies that dictate how -- and for what price -- we connect to the
Internet.

Now the tiny sliver of broadband competition that still
exists in America could disappear completely. Verizon and a group of cable
companies including Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable have settled
on a deal
that would allow them to divide up the broadband market among
themselves, leaving Internet users in the lurch.

In short, Verizon would purchase a big chunk of wireless
spectrum owned by the cable companies in exchange for an agreement to resell
those companies' broadband services to its customers -- customers who once hoped
that Verizon would build out its own FiOS network to compete with these very
same cable companies.

This deal amounts to an agreement between Verizon and these
cable companies to stop competing. Whatever slices of the broadband market they
currently dominate, they'll continue to dominate -- without the threat of
competition. With that threat removed, these companies will have little
incentive to lower prices, increase speeds or build out to underserved areas.

Meanwhile, Verizon's wireless spectrum purchase would make the
already concentrated mobile market even more so -- with AT&T and Verizon
controlling two-thirds of all wireless subscriptions, 80 percent of the most valuable
wireless spectrum and 80 percent of the entire industry's profits.

The U.S. broadband market is in bad shape. More competition
could help fix it, but shady business deals and bad government policies are
fostering more concentration, not
less.

How do we solve this competition problem? We're asking
Congress, the Justice Department and the FCC to block
Verizon's proposed deal
. That's a start. But we also have to support other
forms of broadband competition, like municipally owned networks that compete with
-- and often beat -- big incumbents like Comcast when it comes to speed, access
and affordability.

Unfortunately, those incumbents have spent millions to pass
state-level bills that outlaw such networks. A movement is coming together to support
communities' right to decide for themselves whether to build such systems. You
can join it here.

You can also learn more about the history of corporations
trying to control our access to basic utilities at the expense of residents who
have depended on those utilities for their very survival. Indeed, many people
see the battle for broadband as the 21st-century equivalent of the fight
for rural electrification
.

We oppose the Verizon-cable deal and support
community-owned broadband networks for one simple reason: Without competition, companies
will leave Americans behind when it comes to the basic information utility of
our time.

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