Elgan: We need a mobile broadband space race

We put a man on the moon. Why can't we have fast, nationwide mobile broadband?

On Oct. 4, 1957, Russia launched Sputnik, the world's first-ever man-made satellite, into Earth orbit.

The launch sparked fear in the United States that America would fall behind the Soviet Union in science, technology and space exploration, giving birth to the "space race." President Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated the creation of NASA and a wide range of other programs designed to boost U.S. technological know-how. His successor, John F. Kennedy, vowed to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s -- and we did.

It was understood at the time that space would eventually and inevitably be "conquered," and that developing the ability to travel into space would involve the invention of technologies that would boost the economy and benefit mankind generally.

That space would be explored was a foregone conclusion in the 1950s. The only question was who would lead the world into the Space Age: the "Evil Empire," or the "Free World"? And who would gain the economic advantages of overcoming all the technical hurdles required for a successful space flight?

The space race did, in fact, lead to countless unforeseen technologies and economic benefits that experts say paid for the whole thing and then some. NASA facilities in the South created employment and economic development. Technologies first created for the space race accelerated the development of computers, and made possible inventions such as the cell phone.

It also made possible what many consider the pinnacle of human achievement: men playing golf on the moon.

Although a federal agency and tax dollars drove the countless achievements and myriad benefits of space exploration, the trend these days is toward increasing privatization, with private companies launching satellites -- and soon, even tourists -- into space.

The 'Sputnik' of our age launched this week

An event happened this week that I consider the "Sputnik" of our own age. More than 50 years after the Russians launched the world's first orbiting satellite, HTC on Wednesday launched the HTC MAX 4G -- the world's first WiMax cell phone -- in Russia! The phone is in fact an integrated GSM and WiMax handset that will take advantage of Scartel's Yota WiMax network.

WiMax is considered one of the 4G technologies that will replace the current 3G mobile broadband systems available to iPhone 3G and BlackBerry Bold users in the U.S.

Although U.S. carriers are working on 4G and WiMax -- Sprint Nextel Corp., for example, launched WiMax services in Baltimore in September -- the nation is way behind in all aspects of mobile broadband.

The Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Europeans and now even the Russians are way ahead of the U.S. in the development of next-generation mobile broadband. While Japan is working on DSL speeds for high-definition movies on demand to cell phones, America hasn't figure out how to deliver an adequate connection for an iPhone in New York. The U.S. is plagued by spotty service, incompatible technologies and vast regions where no service is possible. The country that invented both the cell phone and the Internet is floundering as a third-rate cell phone Internet backwater.

1 2 Page 1
Page 1 of 2
It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon