Does US Broadband Need To Step Its Game Up?
Saul Hansell of the New York Times has an excellent point, customer service reps in other countries are a lot nicer than the ones over here. He also makes a better point of greater scale: We need to take a page from the "Broadband for Dummies" book written by other countries. Why exactly? Lets take a look at the facts (highlighted by Hansell). Broadband in Japan is $60.00/month for 150 megabits per second (Mbps). The closest thing the United States has to that is 50 Mbps for an average of $120/month. London has the US beat in starting prices because it's only $9/month to get 8 Mbps which is more of an introductory speed. For a paltry 1 Mbps in New York, you'd have to pay $20/month. We start to notice a pattern when we compare the US to Iceland and how much of each population has adopted broadband. In Iceland, 83% of the people have broadband, comparatively, in the United States (this I found quite interesting) only 59% of the people have broadband.
If all this comparison and berating of US broadband makes you sad because it reminds you of all the times your parents compared you, the black sheep, to your goody-two-shoes brother/sister (or is it just me?), then fear not dear readers! There is good news: Compared to Japan, Sweden, and Korea's average speeds, we are slower than all of them (@5.2 Mbps average speed)! Now it may not be readily apparent why that's good, but let me remind you, dear reader of the chant "First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest."
But this difference in broadband speeds has little to do with our levels of broadband technology. Rather it is urban distribution and density that makes the US pale in juxtaposition. According to Saul Hansell, half the population of South Korea lives in or around Seoul in highly populated apartments. The broadband providers can thus provide better access because they can focus their efforts onto one general area instead of spreading out from urban inner cities. Basically with DSL, the shorter the distance between you and the internet provider, the faster the speeds. US internet service providers who could provide a faster internet to urban city dwellers, tend to provide slower speeds that they can provide to the rich suburban dwellers as well. Now Hansell stresses that we have the Truth in Advertising Act which means that our reported average speeds are more honest than those in other countries, so there is indeed something to cheer about. But still, the question remains, to some extent, open-Does US broadband need to step its game up?