On June 9, a team of scientists from MIT and NASA will announce that they have successfully transmitted a strong Wi-Fi signal all the way to the moon. The presentation, to be given at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics in San Jose, California, will detail how researchers used infrared lasers and a set of four, six-inch-diameter telescopes to achieve upload speeds of 19.44 megabits per second (Mbps) and download speeds of an astonishing 622 Mbps.
The discovery, which utterly trounces the radio frequency speeds currently in use, could revolutionize the way we send and receive data from space. Meanwhile, telecom giant Time Warner Cable is delivering an upload speed of a mere 1.13 Mbps and a download speed of 16.5 Mbps to my humble apartment, even though it’s squarely located down here on earth.
Apparently, thanks to Time Warner’s profound incompetence and monopolistic death grip, beleaguered Chinese lunar rover Jade Rabbit has an easier time Skype-ing with coworkers and watching Netflix’s Orange is the New Blackon the moon than I do here in Brooklyn, even though the rover is “progressively deteriorating,” and is located approximately 238,900 miles away.
Sure, I could switch internet service providers — except for the fact that I can’t. My apartment is one of the 64% of households in the United States has only one or two broadband options. And in my case, it’s just the one.
On the bright side, I’ve come to love the dulcet sounds of Time Warner’s hold music (you can listen for hours!) and the thrilling experience of visiting one of the company’s many offices. This Manhattan location is particularly exciting, should you ever have a chance to drop by. It combines all the creeping dread of a George Tooker painting with a dystopic future in which the entire world has become an LED-lit ESPN Zone.
Unfortunately, even the innumerable charms of Time Warner Cable News NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan aren’t enough to outweigh the fact that my internet service, on which I depend for a living, will go out for days at a time without explanation, leaving me to plead for a technician appointment that isn’t weeks away.
Have I tried turning everything off and on again, Time Warner? Why yes. Yes I have. Maybe you could do the same with your entire company. No, one month of ersatz land line service will not make up for the fact that, at this point, I’m basically paying you to prevent me from doing my job.
Perhaps, in addition to your Connect a Million Minds initiative, which seeks to “address America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math,” you could develop a Connect Our Existing Customers initiative, to addresses the fact that, thanks to a lack of market competition, the United States — the very country that invented the internet — remains behind Latvia when it comes to broadband connectivity.
Or, instead, you could attempt to merge with equally incompetent telecom behemoth Comcast, diminishing the scant competition that remains in the American broadband market, and putting 40% of America’s high-speed Internet service under the stranglehold of a single, colossal company. I mean, hey, why stop at losing to Latvia when there’s Lithuania and Estonia. I believe that’s what Time Warner refers to as a “triple play.”
With any luck, neither the Federal Trade Commission nor the Department of Justice will be mesmerized by Time Warner’s hypnotic eye-of-Horus logo, and antitrust regulators will reject the pending Comcast deal. After all, although the $45 billion merger hasn’t yet received the government’s imprimatur, it’s already inspired even further consolidation of the market.
Besides, it’s not like we haven’t learned this lesson before.
Maybe, if U.S. broadband service doesn’t improve, and the merger does go through, we can all just decamp to the moon. I’m sure Jade Rabbit could use the company, anyhow.