When it comes to providing fast, affordable broadband Internet access, the U.S. can’t compete with other countries. A new study by the Open Technology Institute found that Americans pay far more than people in Asian and European countries for the same type of broadband Internet service, and U.S. service isn’t as fast.
According to The New York Times, this is the result:
Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection. In Los Angeles, New York and Washington, downloading the same movie takes 1.4 minutes for people with the fastest Internet available, and they pay $300 a month for the privilege
The report compares the cost and speed of Internet access in 24 cities across the globe, including several U.S. cities.
Why does the U.S. lag behind so many other countries in both speed and affordability of service? It isn’t a technology issue.
“Instead, it is an economic policy problem — the lack of competition in the broadband industry,” the Times said.
To get service of 25 megabits per second, three-fourths of U.S. homes might have one option, if they have any at all, LA Weekly reported. According to the Times, that statistic led Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to say:
Stop and let that sink in: Three-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st century economics and democracy.
Two U.S. cities – Kansas City, Mo., and Chattanooga, Tenn. – offer both speed and value, similar to what’s available overseas. Both cities have local government-run Internet service.
“Our research shows that these locally owned networks tend to deliver better value to their customers when compared on a price-per-megabit basis to competing cable and telecom providers in their own cities,” the study said.
Slow, expensive Internet service puts the U.S. at a distinct disadvantage. There is a lot of room for improvement.
“More competition, better technologies and increased quality of service on wireline networks help to drive down prices,” Nick Russo, a policy program associate studying broadband pricing at the Open Technology Institute and co-author of the report, told the Times.
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