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Broadband Service Better, Faster in Japan
By: Terri Wells
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    Table of Contents:
  • Broadband Service Better, Faster in Japan
  • Japan’s Success Story
  • Broadband in the US: What Happened?
  • The Future of US Broadband

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    Broadband Service Better, Faster in Japan

    (Page 1 of 4 )

    Some of us here in the United States think we have the best Internet in the world, but the Washington Post tells a different story. The cost of a broadband Internet connection is far cheaper in Japan than in the US and many times faster as well. In this article we’ll look at the differences, try to figure out why they exist, and ask what, if anything, should be done to catch up.

    According to the article, broadband connections are eight to 30 times as fast in Japan as they are in the US. How much faster is that? Fast enough to watch full-screen, broadcast-quality TV on your computer. Consider how different this is from watching YouTube!

    The difference in quality is opening the way to new applications. It is improving users’ experiences of videoconferencing; making telecommuting more comfortable; and even increasing possibilities in medicine. True telemedicine, where doctors make diagnoses from a distance, may be just over the horizon for Japan.

    While all of these applications are exciting, it’s the last one that has the most potential for saving lives. And it will roll out fairly soon. Shoji Matsuya, director of diagnostic pathology at Kanto Medical Center in Tokyo, talked about a telepathology system that will be in use nationwide next spring. The system lets pathologists examine tissue samples from patients living in areas far from major hospitals. It uses high-definition video and remote-controlled microscopes.

    Japan faces a severe shortage of pathologists, and this is one way to stretch them, provided the system can give images that are detailed enough for making a diagnosis. “Before, we did not have the richness of image detail,” Matsuya notes. “With this equipment, I think it is possible to make a definitive remote diagnosis of cancer.” With most cancers, the earlier it is spotted, the quicker treatment can start – and the better the patient’s outlook for survival.

    When will see something like this in the US? “For now and for at least the short term, these applications will be cheaper and probably better in Japan,” said Robert Pepper, senior managing director of global technology policy at Cisco Systems, maker of networking hardware. It’s not just Japan that is ahead of us either; according to a recent survey, we rank twelfth out of 30 countries for broadband. So what happened?

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