Back to USA

by Colin Berkshire

I’ll be headed back to the good old USA in a few weeks. I spend much of my time in Asia, and I have three overseas “permanent” addresses.

I always like getting back to the US. No place makes better pizza. The steaks are rivaled only by Kobe Beef in Australia. (In Asia you can’t get a good slab of beef.)

But the one thing I dread is the US cellular service. It’s spotty and it’s slow. Most of the time I can’t even watch YouTube videos on Verizon since they sold off ALL of their towers.

It isn’t that I am unwilling to pay 3X as much for the same thing as in Asia. I’ll gladly pay the highest cellular prices in the world, and 3X what most countries charge. But when I pay for 12 GB of data I want to be able to use 12 GB of data. With Verizon it is like buying a large chocolate milk shake and then being handed a coffee stirrer to use as a straw…you want to drink the shake and you just can’t get it up the straw, even though you paid for the full shake.

I usually end up being based in Hong Kong just before I head back to the US. So this makes US internet look especially bad. Gigabit Internet is the norm in Hong Kong. It’s something like $25 a month. It is wicked fast. I joke that web pages appear even before I press enter (which is actually true with some search engines.) I can surf US websites faster in Hong Kong than in the US.

And then, well, there is long distance. The US is the only country I know of that has the concept of long distance anymore. If you have a basic residential phone line from CenturyLink they actually charge you per-minute fees for calling the next city over. (Are their customers stupid? Answer: Yes, they are.)

Really, returning back to the US is quite a culture shock. The idea that the internet is slow and cellular service is both slow and spotty is quite the shock.

The biggest shock is this: nobody in America really seems to care. American’s just don’t get very excited about coverage gaps and slow speeds. Why?