Susan Crawford on the internet disconnect

By Megan McCarthy
March 26, 2013


The backbone of the Internet — fiber, cables, and copper wires – sounds boring. But these physical structures enable the bits and bytes that increasingly define our lives to flow to and from computers around the world. Without them, there’s no Internet. If they’re slow or outdated, they handicap our access to the digital world. Which means these boring pieces of hardware are a new battleground for access in our digital age.

In this interview, I speak with telecom policy expert Susan Crawford about the state of this backbone. She explains the technologies involved, the players who control them, and how the U.S. has already fallen well behind other developed nations when it comes to speeds and connectivity. Finally we talk about her prescription for how America can regain its preeminence — not just as the creators, but as the leaders — of the Internet.

Susan Crawford is the author of Captive Audience, a recent book that looks at the state of telecom policy in the United States, with a focus on the NBC/Comcast merger and its potential implications on the way you access the Internet. She is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law, a former Special Assistant to President Obama for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, and a former board member of ICANN.

In the week since this interview was taped, the European Commission has announced new policy initiatives to facilitate faster broadband connections in Europe and Google has announced it is expanding its Kansas City broadband fiber program to include the community of Olathe, Kansas. Watch the video to hear what Susan had to say about Google’s ultra high speed Internet effort, and much more.

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