Who Has the Fastest Internet Speeds in the World?
Just how much slower is American internet speeds?
For all of you Americans upset about not being able to watch Friends on Netflix without buffering and incredibly slow download speeds you are in for the surprise of your life. The United States being the global powerhouse it is should be able to reach Internet speeds above a snails pace. Yet we don’t make the list of top 10 fastest wireless connections worldwide. We are miles behind current leaders, South Korea who will soon expand the gap to 50 times faster (yes 50 times) than the average broadband connection in the United States.
Internet service in the United States is not only slow it’s extremely expensive. To download a high-definition movie in places like Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Zurich takes about seven seconds and costs as little as $30 a month. These are fascinating figures when compared to New York, Los Angeles, and Washington where the same movie takes 1.4 minutes to download at a hefty price of $300 a month.
The problem comes down to two major factors. The first is a lack of competition. According to Tim Wu, a professor at Colombia Law School “the average market has one or two serious Internet provides, and they set their prices at a monopoly or at duopoly pricing.” For now consumers have nowhere to go, they can either pay these ridiculously high rates for minimal service or not pay and receive no service.
Companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable who dominate the broadband subscription market at 39% and 22% respectively have worked extremely hard in order to make this the status quo in America. Without any major competition these companies can continue to charge outrageous prices while continuing to deliver their terribly slow service. Consumers still struggle to understand why these companies force us to pay hundreds of dollars for horrendous Internet speeds while individuals in other countries pay a fraction for speeds 10 times faster or more.
The second factor surrounds net neutrality. Some believe that the FCC’s decision earlier this year to pass rules commonly characterized, as net neutrality will help the situation a great deal. They think net neutrality will bring a number of positive components to the Internet: no blocking of content, not slowing certain websites due to their bandwidth use, and no paid fast lanes in which content providers pay internet providers for preferential delivery. However the only way net neutrality will achieve these goals will be by raising prices for consumers and slowing down the Internet.
Now that content providers are blocked from paying for faster distribution, consumers can only ensure faster delivery of their priority content by paying more for it. If this sounds bad, it gets worse, now Internet service providers have little to no economic motivation to produce framework that would ultimately improve the Internet as well as its capacity.
While net neutrality may seem like a problem surrounding equity and rights, the unfortunate truth is government regulators chose the method which will at the end of the day make the internet equally slow and expensive for everyone.
The U.S. has a “closed network” system that makes it harder for other companies to enter the market. When America finally decides to create a more open networking system allowing for more competition and a boost in mobile Internet speeds we will start seeing an increase in speeds. While we will continue to fall behind countries like South Korea the U.S. is making aggressive efforts in order to develop 5G technologies that could edge it closer to the top on the list of worlds fastest internet speeds.