The Akamai report covers the "State of the Internet 3rd Quarter, 2009." In that report, Akamai noted that the following countries are at the top.
- South Korea 14.6 Mbps, up 29% Q2-Q3, up 16 percent year-over-year
- Japan 7.9 Mbps, up 8.2 percent Q2-Q3, up 11 percent year-over-year
- Hong Kong 7.6 Mbps, up 10 percent Q2-Q3, 13 percent year-over-year
It wouldn't be so bad, perhaps, if the United States' slower connections were also cheaper. Not so, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The slower connection here in the U.S. costs about $45.52 per month on average, while in South Korea an average broadband bill runs about $28.52. That means South Koreans pay more than a third less, yet have broadband that's 3.75x faster than the U.S.
Many have pointed to the obvious fact for the reasons that the U.S. pays more and gets less: lack of competition. For most consumers, they can choose only between a cable company and a telephone company (DSL) when they sign up for broadband. In other countries, including South Korea, the list of choices is much higher.
Yochai Benkler, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, said the following in a New York Times op-ed:
Affordability is the hard part — because there is no competition pushing down prices. The plan acknowledges that only 15 percent of homes will have a choice in providers, and then only between Verizon’s FiOS fiber-optic network and the local cable company. (AT&T’s “fiber” offering is merely souped-up DSL transmitted partly over its old copper wires, which can’t compete at these higher speeds.) The remaining 85 percent will have no choice at all.
[...] But without a strong commitment to open access, things will get worse. Because of the high price of laying their own next-generation fiber optics, would-be competitors like AT&T and Qwest have largely abandoned their goal of bringing fiber to the home, leaving the highest-speed tiers to the cable companies.