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Summary:

The state of U.S. broadband is mediocre compared to countries like South Korea. Things are even worse in China. But the U.S. has some great online video sites, and China continues to innovate in the P2P video space. What does that say about broadband and innovation?

speedtest

The list of the best-connected countries of the world is topped by South Korea, with average download speeds of 34.14 Mbps, according to Speedtest.net, which today released the results of 1.5 billion worldwide Internet speed tests on its new Netindex.com site. The USA is ranked 26th with 10.16 Mbps, which places us somewhere between the Ukraine and Russia.

Global broadband speeds Nov 23, 2007 - May 24, 2010. Source: Netindex.com

I know what you’re thinking: U.S. broadband stinks, what else is new? That’s what I thought, but upon closer inspection of the results I realized that many of the countries we think of as innovative in the online video space don’t actually offer their residents all that much bandwidth. The U.S. is a good example. We have YouTube, Hulu and live streaming, despite having Net connections that are slower than that of most Eastern European countries.

The UK also offers plenty of online video success stories, the biggest one obviously being the hugely successful BBC iPlayer. Yet, Brits only download with 7.70 Mbps, on average. That’s about the same as the average worldwide download speed, as measured across 152 countries.

And finally, there’s China. The country is 76th on the list with 2.94 Mbps down and 1.28 Mbps up, but a huge force when it comes to P2P video — which is ironic, considering that P2P depends on upload bandwidth. Maybe innovation in online video isn’t the result of abundant resources so much as it’s about making good use of what you have.

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  1. While I don’t disagree with the basic comment – I think the key is to see how “pervasive” broadband is. And on that Korea, Japan has I think is in a much better state than the US. Even more than what the difference in speeds show.

    But as you say, does that lead to more innovation ?

    Well the 2nd thing to think about is that the examples you show are very US centric. While Youtube is becoming more global, Hulu is really a US thing. But the problem is that in countries such as Korea, online video had become extremely popular more than 5 yrs ago. Cyworld, the Korean social network, was just as pervasive as Facebook is now, more than 5 yrs ago. I’m sure you can find more examples in Japan.

    The main problem in my view – is not whether innovation ever occurred, it has and continues – but more of it wasn’t easy to export those to the world. The US with its large market and more global outlook always has an advantage there.

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