- If you get excited about the prospect of really, really fast broadband Internet service, here's a statistic that will make heart race. Or your blood boil. Or both.
Pretty much the fastest consumer broadband in the world is the 160-megabit-per-second service offered by J:Com, the largest cable company in Japan. Here's how much the company had to invest to upgrade its network to provide that speed: $20 per home passed.
The cable modem needed for that speed costs about $60, compared with about $30 for the current generation.
By contrast, Verizon is spending an average of $817 per home passed to wire neighborhoods for its FiOS fiber optic network and another $716 for equipment and labor in each home that subscribes, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.
Those numbers from Japan came from Michael T. Fries
, the chief executive of Liberty Global, the American company that operates J:Com.
His larger point: "To me, this just isn't an expensive capital investment," he said.
The experience in Japan suggests that the major cable systems in the United States might be able to increase the speed of their broadband service by five to 10 times right away. They might not need to charge much more for it than they do now and they'd still make as much...