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Susan Crawford: I Have Seen the Future — And It Has a Swedish Accent — Backchannel

Broadband Breakfast Staff



Over spring break I went to Stockholm to visit the future. I’m not sure other people in the U.S. think of Stockholm as the future; I’m not sure people here think about Stockholm at all. But I had an inkling that the city’s ubiquitous and cheap fiber Internet access would be making a difference right about now. And what I found in the course of my recent week of interviews was both disturbing and comforting.
The troubling part is that Stockholm has become an experimental sandbox for 21st century life-changing technologies because it has something we don’t: a wholesale, passive municipal fiber-optic network. Because it took the step to install this facility more than twenty years, ago, Stockholm is already planning to implement at scale new ideas in energy management, eldercare, responsive city service delivery, and transportation. By being able to ship around enormous amounts of data with ease to everyone in the city, they’re ahead of us in many ways. (Here’s something to ponder: 67% of Stockholm’s two-year-olds are online.) And they’re using their well-developed design sense to enhance what they’re up to — I’ll have more about this part of the story in a later column.
The comforting part: When it comes to agility, collaboration (at least across the private sector), and risk-taking, American culture leads the way. But invigorating cold winds of change are blowing in Stockholm (both literally and figuratively — it was very cold while I was visiting, making me wish I’d brought one of those enormous puffy coats with me), and those low-ego, sensible Swedes seem to be catching up on the Silicon Valley ethos as well.

Sourced through from:

How open access fiber optic networks incentive competition. Let’s learn more from Sweeden!

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