Certainly, not all carriers act this way. Comcast and Verizon DSL are famous for it, but Time Warner's RoadRunner seems to be above this chicanery, at least so far. If AT&T wasn't dismantled nearly 25 years ago, we'd still be renting our phones from Ma Bell for $20 a month, and our telecommunications infrastructure would be the best the third-world had to offer. At least Verizon is offering FIOS in some areas, yet I know of entire communities that have no broadband whatsoever. Wasn't there a Universal Service initiative started over a decade ago? Note as you read that page, you see "The Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service recommended that the Federal Communications Commission take immediate action to rein in explosive growth in high-cost universal service support disbursements. The Joint Board is also seeking comment on proposals for long-term, comprehensive reform of the high-cost program. 5/1/07." This is because we've gotten nothing for a whole lot of something.
Just ask a South Korean how much they spend on the 100Mbit Internet circuit in their house. CNet was talking about 20Mbit links, universal video-on-demand on the cheap back in 2004. Not much has changed in three years, except their average bandwidth has increased fivefold. Heck, just ask them about the Internet service to their mobile phones -- it beats anything in the US by far. This brings me to number three.
3) The US is a mobile communications wasteland
Crazy, indecipherable "plans", "anytime minutes", $0.10 per text message, $0.003 per KB (read that any way you want), and current phones that were cutting edge in Europe when John Paul II was still wandering around the Vatican. That's the state of mobile connectivity in the US today. I've heard more than a few foreigners describe a trip to a T-Mobile store as "like visiting a cellphone museum". Given what they're used to in Europe and Asia, I have little doubt this is true. Wireless carriers in the US have been raking in money hand over fist for the past five years, riding the cellphone boom as high as it will go. During all this, they've been slowly doling out features to their users like cake to the starving, while the rest of the world runs circles around us.
The pending release of Apple's iPhone may spark something here, just as the iPod blew the portable MP3 player market apart. Hey, has Steve Jobs ever made a mistake?