understanding lack of interest in broadband speed

A person living in Arlington, Virginia, measured his Internet connection quality using the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Broadband Test. He found his Internet download speed to be about 750 kilobits per second (kbits/s).  Studying Akamai data on observed average Internet speeds, I found that only about 2% of Internet addresses (from business and residential users) in Arlington, Virginia, have Internet connections this slow or slower.

Under a promise of anonymity, I interviewed this unusual, technologically backward Internet user to try to understand why he doesn’t upgrade to faster Internet connectivity. Here’s a lightly edited transcript of that interview:

Why don’t you upgrade to a faster Internet connection?

Because I’m cheap and lazy.  What I have is good enough.

What do you pay per month for Internet connectivity?

I pay $23.99 per month for Verizon’s “Internet 768/128” service. Plus they tack on about $10 a month worth of incomprehensible charges.  Maybe those are for Internet, too, although I think I paid them even when I just had phone service.

How much would it cost you to get faster Internet connectivity?

I don’t know.  Every month I get several offers in the mail.  They don’t make it easy to figure out how much in total the new service actually costs and how much faster it is.   So I just throw the offers out. I’m lazy.

Don’t you want faster connectivity?

Sure.  But I’m cheap and I’m lazy.

But with faster connectivity you’d save time.

I do my laundry in a laundry room in the basement of my four-story apartment building.  I’ve got to walk up and down four flights of stairs to do my laundry.  That wastes more time than my slow Internet connection.

With faster connectivity you could watch more video on the Internet.

I watch the videos that are worth watching.  Watching more wastes time.

What about online virtual worlds?  Every heard of World of Warcraft?

Yup.  When I’m old and bedridden, I’ll play that.  And I’ll read the newspaper, if it’s still around.

What about video conferencing?

With prostitutes?

No, I mean for meetings and stuff.

I prefer to meet in the flesh.

You have no idea of all the great things you can do with high-speed Internet connectivity.

How am I supposed to find out? Verizon keeps raising its rate for my slow connection. If I sign up for high-speed Internet, they’ll just get me faster.

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What that guy said reminds me of what an old farmer said. See the video below. They seem related. Just goes to show why making progress in the communications industry is so difficult.

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