The United States is definitely at the forefront of all things internet. The three largest internet companies in the world, Google, Facebook and Amazon, are all American, and have a combined net worth of more than $650 billion.
In fact, 8 out of the top 10 biggest internet companies in the world are American. So it would only make sense that our average internet speeds over here should be pretty fast right?
Well according to a new report released by the Open Technology Institute (OTI), that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The report examined internet speeds as well as costs in 24 major cities around the world. Seoul, South Korea topped the list as the best city for internet. In Seoul, you can get an ultra-fast connection of about 1000 megabits per second for only $30 a month.
How fast is 1000 megabits? Fast enough to download a full-length album in about 6 seconds, or a feature length movie in less than 40 seconds. The OTI report found that you can find 1000-megabit connections in Hong Kong for $37 per month and Tokyo for $39.
So how fast are speeds in America? According to data released late last year by Akamai Technologies, the average American connection speed is just 9.8 megabits per second.
That doesn’t mean, however, that faster internet services don’t exist in the United States. People living in New York, DC and Los Angeles have access to 500-megabit speeds through Verizon. The only problem: the plans cost about $300 a month.
A few American cities have taken matters into their own hands and built community-owned fiber optic networks capable of matching the 1000-megabit speeds seen in Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Chattanooga, Tennessee and Lafayette, Louisiana both have their own public fiber networks. Google has built fiber networks in Kansas City, Kansas, Provo, Utah and Kansas City, Missouri (they are currently building a fiber network in Austin, Texas as well).
The price of accessing these fiber networks is $70/month in Chattanooga, Kansas City, KS, Kansas City, MO and Provo, and $110 in Lafayette.
The problem with fiber networks is that they’re very expensive to install and maintain, since they involve running wiring underground to individual homes.
The OTI report also points out that while many of the U.S.’s largest internet service providers have been increasing their speeds in recent years…
“…it is also important to note that especially in the U.S., many of the improved plans are at the higher speed tiers, which generally are the most expensive plans available.
The lower speed packages—-which are often more affordable for the average consumer—-have not seen as much of an improvement according to the data we have collected.”
Google has plans to expand its fiber network to a handful of other American cities in the next few years, including Atlanta, Portland and San Antonio.
That being said, it will probably be a while before the average American has access to 1000-megabit speeds at a reasonable cost.