In an essay over at The American, Roslyn Layton, a PhD fellow in internet economics at Aalborg University in Denmark, argues that a “hard look at the global broadband data shows there is a serious gap between the picture critics … paint and what actually exists in the real world.”
Yes, South Korea, has the world’s fastest speed of 45 Mbps. But there is more to the story, Layton argues, pointing to a new report from the Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The key findings:
1. America enjoys robust intermodal competition between cable and DSL fiber-based facilities, with the third-highest rate of wired intermodal competition in the OECD (behind Belgium and the Netherlands).
2. America leads the world in the adoption of 4G/LTE mobile broadband, a technology that’s a credible competitor at the lower end of the broadband speed spectrum and a gateway technology for bringing broadband non-adopters online.
3. Entry-level pricing for American broadband is the second lowest in the OECD, behind Israel.
4. The average network rate of all broadband connections in the United States was 29.6 Mbps in the third quarter of 2012; in the same period, we ranked seventh in the world and sixth in the OECD in the percentage of users with performance faster than 10 Mbps.
5. Of the nations that lead the United States in any of these four metrics (deployment, adoption, speed and price), no nation leads in more than two.
6. In the last few years American firms bought more fiber optic cable than all of Europe combined. 2011 was the first year in which America’s fiber purchases exceeded those of 2000, and 2012 orders have remained strong.
7. 82 percent of American homes are passed by a cable technology capable of supporting broadband speeds of 100 Mbps or higher and a new technology known as Vectored DSL may soon bring a second 100 Mbps service into the market.
8. Broadband adoption in the United States is not as high as some leading nations, but our 68.2 percent adoption rate for all households exceeds the EU-15’s 66.9 percent. When looking at adoption rate for households with computers, the U.S. rate is close to the top 4 percentage points from the leader) and three percentage points above the EU-15’s 85.9 percent for this population.
9. American broadband service providers are no more profitable than those in the rest of the world.
10. American broadband prices are progressive: American users of low-speed, entry-level broadband services pay less than their peers in other countries, but those who use the fastest services pay more.