Re: @ Tony S
Internet access itself is hardly a necessity for life
Since I work from home, it indeed is a necessity.
It's difficult, this, because there are some conflicting issues. For the vast majority of home uses, 2Mbps - 8Mbps is still more than adequate. A minimum of 2Mbps will allow basic streaming of audio or video or even desktops. 2Mbps is fast enough that OS updates (and I speak here as an OpenSuse user so I do see rather a lot of updates) aren't a total drag and even relatively complex sites such as BBC News or Amazon will load in all their multimedia glory in a reasonable time.
Yes, I would miss it if it weren't there at all. No, it wouldn't kill me; although life would be more difficult, it is still perfectly possible to make your way in the modern world without a fast internet connection or, indeed, without any.
But it is becoming more difficult to do so, so a 'basic' level of access is important, and this is where capitalism really sucks because capitalism cannot justify dragging new cables out to flybown villages where the RoI is never going to work, simply so that the inhabitants of said outposts of humanity can fill in their tax returns online.
The problem with broadband - in the vast majority of cases - is emphatically not that some people only get 20Mbps when they could be getting 100Mbps. It is;
- no access at all (very rare these days)
- access at speeds below 2Mbps
- unreliable access (missing packets, dropped connections, that sort of thing)
- high monthly charges (the UK seems to be doing relatively well here)
- low data caps with punitive over-cap fees
and looking at that list I can see very few items that don't require either legislative or direct government influence in order to improve them.
In the meantime, if your job requires you to work from home, and relies on a fast internet connection in order to make that possible then perhaps your employer should be paying at least some of the cost of that access which - if you are out in the sticks - might be considerable but is rarely completely impossible.
Of course, pure capitalism says that this is looking at the problem from the wrong direction. If the work requires a particular resource which is available in one location but not another, then the worker must move to the resource and not expect the resource to come to him. This is indeed what happened in Europe in the 17th - 19th centuries when we learned that pure capitalism has some major downsides.
It still amazes me that people complain about 10Mbps or 20Mbps being slow. There are very few circumstances when our own 5Mbps(ish) connection (throughput - sync is about 7Mbps) has been limiting at home, and my family of six lives a fairly full modern digital lifestyle, though we don't allow online gaming. Not a necessity of life methinks.
Yes a few more Mbps would be 'nice', and I do have one use where a better uplink speed would be good (ours is around 1000kbps sync) but it's hardly as vital as a safe supply of water, a safe way to dispose of sewage, a reliable and safe supply of food etc.
Note: this is a relative of the rant I often get into when they publish those "deprivation" surveys that include lack of a pay TV subscription, a games console and a night out once a week as indicators of poverty.