Despite the deployments of a few gigabit networks by Google and the spread of faster cable technology, U.S. broadband is falling behind. It’s expensive both as a monthly bill and on a per-megabit basis when compared to the rest of the world. For example, at $89 per month on average, U.S. residents pay more for broadband than residents in 57 other countries including Canada, Bulgaria, Colombia and the U.K. That’s right, the U.S. ranks 58 out of 90 countries.
The research, from research firm Point Topic concludes that the higher broadband prices are “caused by lower investment in infrastructure as well as lower take-up which prevents them from benefiting from economies of scale.” To get the above data the firm compared the prices paid for residential broadband and includes standalone and bundled services offered over DSL, fiber and cable broadband in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Thus, those higher prices are also caused by a tendency is the U.S. to bundle our broadband with voice and television service, which undoubtedly leads to higher prices (although I pay $70 a month for just cable broadband). However, in many areas it’s hard or impossible to buy standalone broadband. Sometimes, when you do, you pay a higher rate!
North America (the U.S. is the largest broadband market in North America) also fails to wow in a chart measuring the cost of broadband relative to its speed for a variety of regions. Instead, North America is both more expensive and relatively slow compared to Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Asia Pacific.
However, the U.S. shouldn’t give up hope. In some ways it has an advantage when it comes to the cost of the actual access technology. The Point Topic data showed that DSL is the most expensive access technology by more than seven times when compared with fiber and cable broadband. The research team counts any fiber to the node technologies such as AT&T’s U-verse deployment as fiber. And outside of rural areas, the U.S. broadband buying public has shifted to mostly cable or what Point Topic counts as fiber services. So maybe we’ll see costs drop or speeds grow.
A final takeaway for those not feeling lousy enough about broadband in the U.S.: During the last three months of 2013, the average monthly charge for residential broadband services was $76.25 (I’m average!) and the average bandwidth provided by residential services was 51.9 Mbps (I’m below average). Here’s to hoping this improves in 2014.