Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It

In This Review

Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It
By Susan Crawford
Yale University Press, 2019
264 pp.

This trenchant and personal book describes the powerful benefits that result from bringing ultrafast fiber-optic Internet cables directly to households and small firms. Singapore, Stockholm, and Tokyo; parts of South Korea; and a scattering of U.S. cities have accomplished this. Crawford, who has visited many of those places and interviewed many people involved, castigates U.S. telephone and cable companies and their lawyers for actively discouraging the rollout of fiber-optic cables to houses and offices (even as they themselves use them). She berates them for their high prices, which they can charge because they often operate as local monopolies, which they want to preserve. Crawford ends her indictment of the current state of affairs—and the political system that permits it—with a call for a new federal initiative to install fiber-optic cables throughout the United States, modeled on past infrastructure programs, such as rural electrification and the building of the interstate highway system.


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