In July 2015, the US president Barack Obama announced a plan to bring high-speed internet to low-income households calling it a twenty-first century necessity. While telecom companies have argued that most people don’t need high-speed internet, consumers have shown their preference for faster connections. So which countries have the fastest internet.
Every year a leading internet research firm releases a list of the countries with the fastest internet. The worldwide average speed is about 5 Mbps. But there are a number of external factors which affect actual download speed. To simplify a 10 minute long high-definition YouTube video would take about 3 minutes and 30 seconds to download on a 5 Mbps connection. You are thinking about the top 10 countries which have the fastest internet connections in the world. So here they are:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
Now despite the internet being born in the United States the U. S. doesn’t even make it into the top ten fastest internet speeds. With an average 11.9 Mbps connection a 3 minute YouTube video would take about 1.5 minutes to download. Sluggish connections and exorbitant pricing packages leave Americans languishing in the wake of Internet surfers from places like Hong Kong, where residents can get 500 Mbps symmetric fiber service for just $25 per month. By comparison the country with the fastest internet by far, South Korea with speeds of 23.6 Mbps, the download would take less than 45 seconds of that YouTube video. The next four are Ireland, Hong Kong, Sweden and the Netherlands which all have speeds of around ~15 – 17 Mbps.
So why do South Korea dominate internet speeds. Well first and foremost the South Korean government began planning for widespread adoption of the internet back in 1995. By 2000 nearly half of their citizens were connected. However one of the strongest reasons is that the Korean government deregulated internet service providers. This made it relatively easy to become an ISP, forcing them to compete by lowering prices and raising speeds. In the U. S. there is almost no competition among ISP’s. Nearly a third of US households have either a single available provider in their area or no access at all. Additionally South Korea has an extremely dense population with 1300 residents per square mile, physical internet infrastructure costs less to install and to maintain. In 1996 the U. S. attempted to institute widespread broadband infrastructure by allowing telecom companies to charge consumers for future improvements. Unfortunately despite charging roughly $200 billion over the course of a decade, most of that money was collected in telecom profits. Few improvements were made to internet service. The differences in regulation population and competition are the major reasons as to why South Korea dominates the U. S. in internet speed. Since faster internet correlates to more productivity it is only a matter of time until the U. S. starts to feel the effects of crawling behind the rest of the world.
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