Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Who is megabits ahead, and who is lagging behind? We’ll give you a clue: in terms of price, you’re probably lagging.
Internet speed varies across the globe – and the country – based on factors ranging from location to population to the proximity of ISPs. Broadband speed is measured in Mbps (megabits per second, not to be confused with megabytes), which can quantify download speed, upload speed, or average speed of Internet connections.
Not all states, counties, or towns are created equal, which is why the town Ephrata, Wash. is leagues ahead at download speeds of 85.5 Mbps (they have their own fiber optic provider), followed by Kansas City, home to a grand Google Fiber Internet experiment and, non-coincidentally, download speeds of 49.9 Mbps.
Adversely, the places in the U.S. you probably want to avoid web-surfing are Fort Defiance (1.41 mbps, equivalent to Algeria) and Chinle (.85 mbps, equivalent to DR Congo), both in Northeastern Arizona – as measured and mapped by Gizmodo in Sep. 2013.
Despite the freakishly high rankings of aforementioned locations, the United States average download speed is (currently) 21.2 Mbps. That’s according to Ookla’s Net Index, which provides global real-time broadband data.
You can find out the Internet speed in your area using Net Index here.
Across the globe
While Net Index measures download times, other reports look at average and peak broadband speeds, such as The State of the Internet (pdf) by Akamai Technologies, which ranks the U.S. in 8th, putting our speed average as 9.8 Mbps.
Net Index often reports higher speeds that you’ll see in reports, using an innovative measuring methodology which many argue is more accurate (pdf).
The World Economic Forum presents data (pdf) ranking the U.S. 35th out of 148 countries in terms of broadband Internet bandwidth capacity. As each country’s data is self-reported, this report’s comparison accuracy may be slightly skewed.
Though these reports vary widely due to discrepancies in methodology, the winners are fairly clear across the board, with South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, routinely coming out on top.
South Korea, which already boasts the highest Internet speeds in the world by most standards, will likely be getting even faster Internet in 2014. According to Akamai’s reports, South Korea’s average Internet speed is 22.1 Mbps, and is the fastest growing, as well. According to Net Index, it’s currently 50.0 Mbps, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, and Romania (for now).
According to the Guardian, South Korea will even introduce 5G wireless in the near future, capable of downloading a full-length film in one second. Residents may also soon enjoy lightning-fast speeds of 300 Mbps.
What’s the price?
Sure, the U.S. might not fare as bad as some assume (except for the poor folk in AZ), but we do pay more for Internet than any other country. In fact, we pay over triple the price of those in South Korea, according to the BBC.
With an average of $90 a month, compared with Seoul’s $15, it’s hard not to be just a little bitter about the discrepancy in price. The BBC goes on to note that these high prices reflect consolidation and monopolization of large Internet providers that face little to no competition in the market.
Considering Comcast’s recent acquisition of Time Warner Cable, that little competition is about to get smaller, along with the wallets of users coerced into pricy TV-phone-Internet bundles.
What’s your Internet speed? Measure it here and tweet us @curiousmatic!