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2008 International Broadband Rankings 198

Posted by kdawson
from the why-your-pipes-suck dept.
itif writes to let us know about a major new report, released yesterday by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, showing how the US and other countries compare in terms of broadband access, speed, and price. The rankings (PDF) place the US 15th, this country having fallen every year since 2001. Here's the full report (PDF). According to the report's executive summary: "The US broadband policy environment is characterized on the one hand by market fundamentalists who see little or no role for government, and see government as the problem; and on the other by digital populists who favor a vastly expanded role for government (including government ownership of networks and strict and comprehensive regulation, including mandatory unbundling of incumbent networks and strict net neutrality regulations) and who see big corporations providing broadband as a problem. Given the policy advocacy and advice they are getting, it is no wonder that Congress and the Administration have done so little."
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2008 International Broadband Rankings

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  • I for one do not want the US government providing my broadband access. Consider that this administration has had to go out of its way to perform warrentless wiretapping, and this resulted in an open loop that was able to be leaked to the public. Can you imagine if the US government was in full control of all telecommunications? I doubt we would have even known about the wiretapping because there would be no middle man.
    • Can you imagine if the US government was in full control of all telecommunications?

      They learned long ago they don't need "full control" They learned where the choke points are and gather information there.

      Legislators do nothing simply because it's not a high enough priority for the telcos. Right now the telcos are preparing to decimate cable/satellite and rid themselves of their public obligations (POTS) altogether.
    • by kellyb9 (954229)
      Government provides services are generally sub-par anyway.
      • What we need is local/state government to REMOVE the monopoly status on cable companies, and allow others to enter:

        - Let competing companies lay-down 3-4 wires to each home.
        - Put the power in the hands of the People, to decide if they want Comcast, Cox, Time-Warner, ... as their Cable Internet provider.

        Multiple cables to every home so consumers have a choice. As the Libertarians say, "Pro-choice in everything".

        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          Let competing companies lay-down 3-4 wires to each home.

          That's cost effective.

          As the Libertarians say, "Pro-choice in everything".

          Is that why Ron Paul supports a woman's right to choose? Oh wait......

      • by mvdwege (243851)

        In the 80s, we had plenty of incompatible corporate networks, where you would get charged an arm and a leg for what was effectively access to a few mailing lists.

        In the meantime, the U.S. government was hard at work creating a set of networking standards that would allow anyone to connect to any network. After the work of a few visionaries, including a then Senator, this network was opened to the public, making it possible for you to post your inane drivel on a free discussion site.

        Yeah, government-provid

        • What kind of idiot thinks that the highway between producers of goods and their markets, between the markets and consumers, are in the domain of government responsibility?

          Oh... wait... never mind.

    • by Hatta (162192)
      Are you kidding? The US government can already tap anything it likes. So being government owned or corporate owned makes no difference when it comes to surveillance.

      Also note that the US government already runs a major communications network: The Postal Service. And items sent through the US postal service are protected under Federal law. Items sent through private carriers have no protection at all. There's no reason we couldn't do the same for the internet.
    • I recall a clue here I followed here on Slashdot to an interesting story. It happens that in the 90's there was literally no interest in building out broadband to rural areas of the state because of the enormous cost of wiring sparsely populated areas. Three state power districts (PUDs) had embarrassing surplus funds from their overbuilt hydro installations they needed to get rid of. They got permission to pilot broadband over fiber to the home (FTTH) to dissipate some of the excess. After some time bui

  • How many countries subsidize telcos with tax dollars to create their infrastructure? I'm curious.

    I know we are a spread-out nation here in the US, but there is no reason why cities with people living on top of each other (LA, Boston, New York, etc) can't easily have the infrastructure that the rest of the world has.

    I'd buy the spread-out excuse, except our big cities had poor broadband, and our rural areas are still on dial-up. In that regard, we are very much behind other nations.

    That's your tax dollars
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Narpak (961733)
      Norway has directly invested the money made from our oil resources into our infrastructure. And before the oil platforms made a profit we received loans from a lot of other countries; with security in the oil. It is far from perfect, but the profit from the oil is considered to belong to the people and should therefor be used to build, and provide services, that benefits all. In practical terms this meant that in the sixties, seventies and eighties we build schools, medical facilities, phone lines, roads an
      • by daem0n1x (748565)
        Great! Can I move in?
    • I know we are a spread-out nation here in the US, but there is no reason why cities with people living on top of each other (LA, Boston, New York, etc) can't easily have the infrastructure that the rest of the world has.

      I think we could go a lot farther than that. We probably couldn't run fiber to every farm in West Virginia or every ranch in South Dakota, but even small cities and suburbs would be doable if it were a priority. Here in Lafayette, LA [lafayettegov.org] we are running fiber [lusfiber.com] to every household in the city via
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday May 02, 2008 @12:05PM (#23276650)

      How many countries subsidize telcos with tax dollars to create their infrastructure? I'm curious. I know we are a spread-out nation here in the US, but there is no reason why cities with people living on top of each other (LA, Boston, New York, etc) can't easily have the infrastructure that the rest of the world has.

      We've paid more per person in tax subsidies than many other nations. Take Sweden, for example. Their population density and median population density are both about the same as the US. Their subsidies, however, had legal teeth that required the telcos to actually provide something in exchange. They also had a huge embezzling scandal where much of the money was stolen. They still have significantly faster internet at significantly lower prices than the US, in exchange for a smaller per person tax.

      The high speed internet problem comes down to pretty much the same thing as many other problems in the US. Politicians are willing to give private companies billions is subsidies, in exchange for hundreds of thousands being returned as campaign contributions. So long as this legalized bribery is allowed, companies will simply pay off politicos in exchange for subsidies or for not having to fulfill the agreements they made when the subsidies were given.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday May 02, 2008 @08:15AM (#23273410) Homepage Journal
    Take a look at from MarketWatch about Comcast's earnings which were released yesterday. Note anything interesting about it? How about this part: [marketwatch.com]


    He said that despite a tough economic climate, Comcast has been able to raise average revenue per-customer to $107 from $96 over the past 12 months.

    In this case, he is Chairman Brian Roberts. In other words, because there is almost none to zero competitors in most of the markets Comcast serves, they can get away with continually raising prices. That is why the U.S. continues to lag the world in broadband.

    Yes, there is the whole issue of running fiber and cable long distances in the U.S. compared to other countries like South Korea and Japan, but when you look at places such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc, you see the same pattern. Only one, or if you're lucky maybe two, providers from which to choose your broadband service.

    In my area, we have two choices; Comcast or Verizon. I can pay $100/month for Comcast's triple-play or I can pay $100/month for Verizon's triple-play. But I can't pay $33/month for just the broadband access or $33/month for just the cable subscription (I currently pay $53.31/month for the combined Basic and Standard cable service).

    This is the overwhelming reason broadband penetration in the U.S. continues, and will continue, to lag behind the rest of the world. The only solution is, unfortunately, government interference. Force the providers to offer their lines to others based on the logic that it was taxpayers who helped to subsidize the laying of all the cable and fiber through tax breaks and such. Either the companies open their lines and allow competition or they have to pay back all the subsidies they got when they originally promised to bring broadband to the U.S. Ten years ago.

    • by afidel (530433)
      Hmm, I guess those cities suck then. I live out in the sticks in Ohio (my neighbors are a farm, a horse farm, and another 1 acre plot) and I have the option of two cable companies, U-verse (fiber to the curb), somewhat slow DSL from many providers, or wireless broadband. All of them but the wireless ISP offer triple play options. Not to say I wouldn't like higher speeds, but other than digital VoD I can't think of many technologies that won't run over all of my available options.
      • by Zerth (26112)
        Where, roughly, in Ohio can you get consumer fiber?
        • by afidel (530433)
          Verizon territory near metro areas has FIOS and AT&T land has U-verse which is fiber to mini-co's with high speed ADSL carrying the signals a couple thousand feet to residences. I think AT&T should just run the damn fiber all the way to the premises but they don't want to give up the copper for some strange reason.
    • by DrLang21 (900992)
      The lack of competition issue really irritates me. Where I live, I have a choice between Comcast and Windstream. I refuse to use Comcast because it's more expensive and they choke bandwidth. Windstream's customer service is severely lacking in comparison though and it's also over priced. If I didn't live in an apartment I would definitely switch to satellite.
      • by Creepy (93888)
        Don't let an apartment hold you up - in the US by a 1996 law (with a 1998 update that allows for you to put it in any exclusive use area, such as a balcony or patio) apartment owners can't stop you from installing Dishes less than 1 meter in diameter.

        The main problem with satellite internet is there is usually significant lag. If you just browse the web or stream video that shouldn't be a problem, but if you want it for games you'll probably have problems (I've read they have done some improvements, possib
    • by Hoplite3 (671379)
      Their take per customer has gone up 11.4% compared to the going 9.5% (headline) inflation rate. That's pretty impressive growth.
    • by StevisF (218566)
      I totally agree. I live less than 15 miles (driving distance, probably ten as the crow flies) from the center of Seattle, but I have one broadband option, Comcast.
  • by dal20402 (895630) * <dal20402 AT mac DOT com> on Friday May 02, 2008 @08:21AM (#23273468) Journal

    The sharp dichotomy presented in the executive summary is just plain wrong. Sure, the two extremes exist, but I think most supporters of net neutrality regulation don't actually want the government to take over networks. The summary is as accurate as "All people in the U.S. are either knuckle-dragging Bushtards or communists."

    The point of net neutrality is not to change who is running networks, it's to prevent network operators from effectively blocking or slowing down connections based on who or what the user is trying to connect to.

  • For example Time Warner pays 15% of their net revenue back to the city of Cary, NC as an 'access fee'. This can only be described as a kickback, a bribe in exchange for monopoly access. And it's legal.
    • How exactly is this offtopic. It directly addresses one of the primary causes for the broadband issues.
  • getting slow (Score:4, Informative)

    by ageforce_ (719072) on Friday May 02, 2008 @08:24AM (#23273498)
    Here's the ranking:
    Score on Specific Broadband Measures
    Household Price5
    penetration3 (Lowest monthly
    Ranking2 (Subscribers Speed4 price per Mbps)
    per (Average download (US $ purchasing Composite Score6
    Nation household) speed in Mbps) power parity)
    1 South Korea 0.93 49.5 0.37 15.92
    2 Japan 0.55 63.6 0.13 15.05
    3 Finland 0.61 21.7 0.42 12.20
    4 Netherlands 0.77 8.8 1.90 11.77
    5 France 0.54 17.6 0.33 11.59
    6 Sweden 0.54 16.8 0.35 11.53
    7 Denmark 0.76 4.6 1.65 11.44
    8 Iceland 0.83 6.1 4.93 11.20
    9 Norway 0.68 7.7 2.74 11.05
    10 Switzerland 0.74 2.3 3.40 10.78
    11 Canada 0.65 7.6 3.81 10.61
    12 Australia
  • The rankings (PDF) place the US 15th, this country having fallen every year since 2001.

    Why is this surprising to anyone? I know a lot of people will post responses regarding net neutrality, the roles of government, policies, politics, etc.

    What about just the SIZE of the US? When some new fiber cable comes out that can dramatically increase the speed, or some other sort of technology, it takes a HECK of a lot longer to deploy in the US. If Japan, South Korea, Norway, Sweden, etc. did not catch up to us AN

    • by abigor (540274)
      These concerns (size, density, etc.) are addressed in the report, and in summary, there's more to it than that. Canada is way less dense and way bigger and has significantly better coverage, thanks in part to more enlightened policymakers.
    • by Cyberax (705495)
      Russia is MUCH larger than the USA, and its Internet access is rapidly getting better (in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg it is already better than in most of USA).

      Besides, the limiting factor in Russia is backbone network - it's almost saturated during peak hours at lots of places. And the USA doesn't have shortage of backbone capacity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ecuador (740021)
      What on earth are you talking about? Nobody's asking to push Fiber through the entire land area of the US. No, Alaska is not the problem. NYC and other large cities are the problem. As I have written before, fiber deployment is VERY scarce in NYC. The availability maps might show you some data points in Manhattan, but we are talking for just a few buildings out of thousands! For example, there is no FIOS in the four location I have tried to get it (for my and my boss), and we are talking about common Manhat
      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        So, don't give me the usual crap about the vast land area that is the US and explain to me:

        Nobody's asking to push Fiber through the entire land area of the US

        Hmmmmm. Try and picture this. 2 MASSIVE 30 lane highways built out of 3 foot concrete with advanced embedded sensor technology that makes the Autobahns look like dirt roads. They both meet in the middle, and for even just a 1 mile stretch turn into a 2 lane wide dirt road. What do you think will happen to the traffic going across it?

        For every S

        • by Ecuador (740021)
          You are not mistaken in geography class, however you obviously have not idea about graph theory, networks etc.

          First of all, your claim that there is a serious lack of backbone bandwidth is unsubstantiated. If you wish to make such a claim at least provide your sources. I am under the impression that the problem in the US is a "last mile" problem.

          Secondly, even if there was such a problem, why do you think it is harder to address for the US than any other country? Do you think that a strongly connected graph
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shinobi (19308)
      As a little comparison... I live in Sweden, and I recently visited my grandparents, in the little, well, village they live in, up in the north(Around 300 people spread over more than 150 km, and about 100km from the nearest city). Even with that, they have access to ADSL, between 2-24Mb/s, in that area, my grandparents having around 12Mb/s practical. I also had 3.2Mb/s bandwidth for my 3G broadband subscription in most of that area, while in Stockholm I'd have 7.2Mb/s.
    • Re:Yeah.... AND?? (Score:5, Informative)

      by eebra82 (907996) on Friday May 02, 2008 @11:02AM (#23275754) Homepage

      What about just the SIZE of the US? When some new fiber cable comes out that can dramatically increase the speed, or some other sort of technology, it takes a HECK of a lot longer to deploy in the US. If Japan, South Korea, Norway, Sweden, etc. did not catch up to us AND then start passing us, I would think there would be something wrong with them.
      Yes, what about the size of the US? Maybe you should take the following into account:

      - Most of the countries listed above the United States are European. Most states of the United States would still be dominated even if they were compared directly as smaller pieces of the US to the smaller pieces of Europe.

      - The size of the country doesn't matter as much as you may think. The US is heavily urbanized which means that the network isn't as much webbed as you may think.

      - The price per Mbps in the US is $2,83. How do you justify your claims when you look at Sweden, which is down at a low $0,35 per Mbps, yet is the size of Florida and only 9 million citizens? Florida has more than twice as many citizens and not even close to Sweden.

      I think your nationalistic thoughts got in the way of all reasoning here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by skrolle2 (844387)

      What about just the SIZE of the US?

      Every single time this kind of news pop up there's always someone crying "But the US is so laaaaarge!!! Bwaaaahhhh! Not fair!". And every single time this stupid argument is thoroughly rebutted. Have you never seen this? Are you new here?

      There are countries that are less densely populated and more densely populated, there are countries that are more urbanized and less urbanized, and there are countries with more government subsidies and less government subsidies than the US, and every variation inbetween,

      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        Every single time this kind of news pop up there's always someone crying "But the US is so laaaaarge!!! Bwaaaahhhh! Not fair!".

        Heh. I did not "cry" and say it is not "fair". Now you are just being a little insulting. I was stating that you could not do a direct comparison of the United States against a country like South Korea. While it might be "unfair" to do so, it is better to say it is inaccurate. No emotions or ego involved here.

        And every single time this stupid argument is thoroug

  • by kellyb9 (954229)
    I find it sad that the country that invented the Internet can't place higher then 15th.
  • happened to our automotive, electronic or spam industry, errr wait...
  • Anyone else beginning to smell a scam? Seems every time these reports are released, it's bawling for more money from the public purse.
  • Cause they sure have bad bandwidth.
  • Isn't there anyone who realizes that the problem is in the monopoly rights the government continually grants the big corporations? If they were exposed to actual free market conditions, none of them would be able to sustain their business models for a minute.
  • We get one of these stories every month, sometimes more often. There are always the same explanations, some of which are debunked and some of which are not. There's always the same bashing of US ISPs and the US government, and we are told how "great" things supposedly are in countries where people can get "100mbps" internet connectivity.

    I don't care anymore.

    Yeah, I would like to see more competition in the US. It's coming. Qwest is finally rolling out FTTN and ADSL2+, which will put more pressure on Comcast
  • The "price" column is misleading especially for Australia. For instance if you compare the LOWEST monthly price this is a capped download limit plan which allows you to download 500meg. Sure this is the lowest cost, however most people can't survive on it, and it doesn't account for anyone else.

    For instance, me and my friends are all nerds with reasonably heavy usage habits. This means we use 80gb per month, which is basically the largest limits you can get.

    These plans cost $100+ AUD and we on average get 5

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