YOU GO, GRANNY: It's not enough that we in the United States have to keep hearing about how we're 'behind even Estonia' in broadband penetration. Now, we're behind even a little old lady from Pasade'' er ' Karstad in broadband speed. Sigbritt Lothberg, 75, recently had a 40 gigabits/sec connection installed in her home in central Sweden, the fastest residential link to date, and many times the speed of your average game-playing, video-downloading, U.S. Web geek. She can get 1,500 HDTV channels and download a high-definition DVD in two seconds.

At first glance, it looks like one more nail in the tires of the U.S. Internet jalopy, stuck with its v4 engine and steadily falling behind the world. In some ways that's true, but it's also worth adding a little perspective. In the first case, Estonia isn't an Internet backwater just because most people here don't know much about it. As we learned during its cyberattack incident in May, Estonia had leapfrogged other countries technologically in the post-Soviet era by committing to Web-based government and services. One reason it worked was that Estonia didn't have an entrenched infrastructure in the way. The same is true of some other countries that outpace the United States in broadband penetration. As for Mrs. Lothberg, she had a little help. Her son, Internet guru Peter Lothberg, arranged the connection to demonstrate a new modulation technique that allows high-speed connections over great distances, according to the Swedish news site, The Local.

It's not that we don't have anything to worry about. But the government is moving, if slowly, toward IPv6 adoption. And if Internet providers could lower the cost of broadband ' people pay less in other countries ' it might soon be our turn to leapfrog.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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