Commentary

Report: U.S. 17th In Broadband Speed

Web users in the U.S. surf the Internet at an average broadband speed of 3.9 Mbps, according to an upcoming Akamai report obtained by GigaOm's Om Malik.

That's higher than the worldwide figure of 1.5 Mpbs, but lower than average speeds in 16 other countries. Malik (and others) expect connections in the U.S. to continue to get faster, thanks to fiber-optic lines and DOCSIS 3.0 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) -- which allows for speeds up to 50 Mbps downstream.

Comcast alone recently said DOCSIS 3.0 is now available to 30% of its network and, by the end of the year, will be available to 65%.

Yet simply making next-gen lines available doesn't guarantee that people's connections will become speedier. Pricing likely will remain a hurdle -- especially given the current economic crunch. Comcast currently charges up to $140 a month for its fastest service -- significantly more than the $40-$50 monthly fees for most cable broadband. Of course, some people will be willing to pay more for super-fast service. But it's not clear whether enough consumers will agree to pay more than $1,500 a year for high-speed lines.

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At the same time, broadband companies continue to roll out monthly caps or other limits on use. Comcast users, for instance, max out at 250GB. Currently, the vast majority of subscribers use far less than 250 GB -- but some industry observers say it's inevitable that usage will increase as more bandwidth becomes available.

Still, Comcast's maximum is relatively generous compared to Time Warner, which is experimenting with caps as low as 5GB a month. Cox, meanwhile, has said it will prioritize certain traffic it deems "time-sensitive" -- which doesn't include peer-to-peer traffic.

Telcos and cable companies like to brag about their speed boosts, but they have more work to do. They also must ensure enough capacity -- at a reasonable price -- for people to download videos, make VoIP calls and engage in other bandwidth-intensive activity without straining the system.

3 comments about "Report: U.S. 17th In Broadband Speed ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 27, 2009 at 10:10 p.m.

    Oh, yeah, it's fair to compare a big country like ours to Monaco? Hong Kong is a country? C'mon. Let's knock the pseudo-countries off that list. And the 90% tax rate socialist countries where we'd be nuts to live. And the heaven-on-earth countries Tunisia and Slovakia!

    Rankings are not fair when we're equated with duchies, protectorates, and Euro-weenie nations. How many of them have a space program or decent medical schools?

  2. Gjuro Garaza, March 27, 2009 at 11:59 p.m.

    @Douglas:
    Fair or not, it's statistics. And you're narrow-minded nazi on top of that. This is an excellent statistical proof that USA is just a huge conglomerate of half-literate rednecks (like you are) and some foreign smart guys (whom you hate).
    It's really funny that you find all of this facts "not fair" -hey, Hong Kong is not a country, and Tunisia & Slovakia are obviously "there-be-dragons" to you.
    By the way, what about those "real countries", like Japan, Suisse, Germany, etc?

    It's really sad that ignorant person like yourself is actually allowed to use web without supervision.

  3. Janis Mccabe from jmod35, April 7, 2009 at 12:03 a.m.

    Douglas, how many of those small places have access to the resources we do? Yes, none of them. So our access is so slow because...?

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