Why Most Of Us Can't Have Broadband

At this point, no one knows who will pay to overhaul the nation's enormous infrastructure

The postcard was a cruel tease. For just $40 a month and no startup charges, Northpoint Communications (NPNT) and partner Microsoft Networks (MSFT) told me, I could tap the Internet with high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) service at home. I knew better because the offer came just a day after Verizon Communications (VZ) told me I cannot get DSL now or in the foreseeable future. The card was particularly puzzling because Verizon, over whose wires the service would run, is in the process of acquiring Northpoint. Meanwhile our cable company, Comcast (CMCSA), says it will offer Internet access in my suburban Washington neighborhood--someday.

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