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People In U.S. Cities Pay More For Slower Broadband Than Other Cities Abroad

by Adriana Lee | July 21, 2012July 21, 2012 5:30 pm PDT

Tokyo

Though broadband Internet speeds in the U.S. can vary from one provider to another, there’s at least one thing that these ISPs have in common — when it comes to speed and value, they just can’t compete with the rest of the world.

The New America Foundation released a study that compared high-speed Internet services across several major cities across the globe. Not only did the U.S. entries miss the top of the list, they didn’t even come close. The American cities in this report ranked in the bottom half.

Here’s how the foundation came up with the results: Across the board, the study looked at the cost of the cheapest “triple play” (phone/internet/TV) package, the fastest speed available for a $35 standalone broadband service, and the fastest Internet connection in the world (without restriction).

The most expensive city:

New York (Verizon’s fiber service charges $154.98 for its cheapest triple-play package)

The least expensive triple-play package:

In the U.S., the provider was AT&T, which offered a price of $65.60 per month in Lafayette, LA. In London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen and Hong Kong, however, similar packages were below $50. Riga, Seoul and Paris fared even better, at less than $40.

The fastest connection for around $35 per month:

In New York and Washington, consumers can get 25Mbps (down) for less than $40, whereas people in Los Angeles get a mere 10Mbps for $29.99. But the city to beat in the U.S. was San Francisco, where Webpass customers get 200Mbps for $37.50 monthly. That actually beats ISPs in Tokyo, Riga, Seoul, Paris, Bucharest and Berlin, all of which have services with 100Mbps for a sub-$40 monthly fee. But that doesn’t beat Hong Kong, where $37.34 buys 500Mbps service.

The fastest Internet connection in the world: 

Turns out, there was one U.S. city that looked like a contender: Chattanooga, TN. (Yes, really.) Residents there have the option of gigabit Internet access, albeit for $317.03 per month. Beyond that, there’s Verizon in New York, which delivers 150Mbps for $159.95, and Comcast in Washington, DC, with 105Mbps at $105.00.

Alas, it pales in comparison to Hong Kong, once again. There, gigabit service goes for $48.59 per month. Amsterdam’s half-gigabit offering costs $83.33, and Tokyo residents can get 200Mbps for an almost laughable $26.85 per month.

So what did we learn? That we here in the U.S. are paying way more for way less, in terms of bandwidth speeds. Sure, it’s important to note that these tests only covered cities and, as Verizon noted (rather defensively), these results don’t take other things into account — like any bonus or value-added features. But that too is worth considering — how many of us would gladly forego these extras in order to cut our service costs? That’s something to think about.

Another thing to think about is fiber networks. Not only did these types of ISPs do well in national testing, but they also did well in this global assessment, despite being in smaller cities. Chatanooga, TN; Lafayette, LA; and Bristol, VA have all built city-owned fiber networks, and they all did a respectable job. While still not exactly cheap, at least those residents have a decent shot at getting what they pay for.

What do you think of these findings? Do the results surprise you? Let us know your reaction in the comments.

(via Ars Technica)


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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