The U.S.'s crap infrastructure threatens the cloud

Thanks to state-sponsored cable/phone duopolies, U.S. broadband stays slow and expensive -- and will probably impede cloud adoption

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Originally, my company used the same cable broadband you get in the home with 50MB down and 5MB up (believe it or not, this is perceptibly slower than 30/30MB fiber in general). When we moved from local servers to the cloud, we knew the 5MB uplink would be a serious problem. Also, with clients and partners in Europe who love Skype, it seemed prudent to reduce the packet loss and latency endemic to normal business cable.

We've been here before

The current situation brings to mind the battle over rural electrification in the 1930s, where the utility monopolies tried to prevent the government from expanding the electrical grid outside of the wealthiest parts of the country. The argument was that the utilities couldn't pay for it -- and if the government got involved, it would cost jobs.

What happened? Electrified rural areas quickly prospered and there weren't very many (if any) unprofitable rural electrification projects. Millions were lifted out of poverty. Today, the argument is that municipal fiber -- as well as other efforts to both increase the speed and availability of broadband and make the United States competitive with the rest of the world -- will cost telecommunication jobs.

In reality, most evidence points to the opposite net effect. Yes, it would cut into Time Warner's short-term profitability. But it would increase my company's short and long-term profitability -- and create other higher-paying jobs associated with technology and communication throughout the economy.

The effect on the cloud

One would expect that the United States would lead in "cloudification," since Amazon and most of the other cloud pioneers are located here. But I can't help but wonder if the broadband advantage outside our borders will not only make those countries more competitive in technology, but also speed up their cloud adoption. If you're moving out of your local network or local data center, then not only burst capacity, but packet loss and latency are seriously important.

After the initial cloud rush, where everyone will be talking but only a few will be doing, I expect that cloud adoption will closely match broadband speed, cost, and availability curves. Those companies living in countries where the broadband monopoly is protected will adopt the cloud at a slower rate than those with competitive markets and municipal fiber. There's a good chance U.S. firms will fall into that group.

This article, "The U.S.'s crap infrastructure threatens the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Keep up on the latest developments in application development, and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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