U.S. Internet Is Slow & Expensive — Surprise?



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Are you secretly convinced that you're paying too much for not enough Internet? Well, if you live in the U.S., rest assured that you are mostly correct. The New York Times reported this week that America is nowhere near being a global leader in average Internet speeds — the Latvian capital of Riga, for example, has web speeds over twice those of San Antonio.

In fact, the U.S. comes in at a tortoise-like 14th in connection speeds, according to Akamai Technologies. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum ranks us even more poorly, at 35th out of 148 countries, based on available bandwidth.

But, not only are our speeds slow — they're also expensive. (A fact that brings to mind that old Annie Hall joke.) While a few cities and states in the U.S. outpace those around the world — specifically, D.C., Massachusetts, and Virginia — the cost is still greater than most of our global competitors'. A one-gigabit-per-second connection in Chattanooga costs about $70 monthly, while the same service in Seoul is approximately $31. That's because the South Korean government subsidizes providers to encourage Internet use.

Part of the problem is our infrastructure — as the country to first develop the Internet, there are a lot of old, slower connections still in place — while some of it is a disagreement over whether access to the web constitutes a basic service, like water or electricity. Still, if we want to stay competitive globally, we'll need to start thinking about how to close this gap. (NYT)