America's Internet service slips to #25 worldwide


Welcome to America, the country with the 25th fastest Internet service in the world, just behind Romania, and falling fast. The culprit? Hard to say, but maybe it's got something to do with the FCC's abolition of any sort of competitive markets for Internet service in the USA? Well, I'm sure it'll be fine -- after all, why would Internet access have any effect on national competitiveness, industry, jobs, health, education, civic engagement, and so forth?
Under the Bush administration, the FCC tossed out competitive broadband safeguards such as open-access requirements, which opened lines to other providers. In 2002 the agency declared that high-speed cable Internet access would no longer be considered a telecommunications service that opened the network to competitors, but rather an “information service” that did not. Following a 2005 court decision, the FCC also reclassified broadband delivered by the phone companies as an “information service.”

These were radical policy shifts that went against the long-held assumption that open communications in competitive markets were essential to economic growth and innovation.

While the U.S. blindly followed a path of "deregulation," other nations in Europe and Asia beefed up their pro-competitive policies. The results are evident in our free fall from the top of almost every global measure of Internet services, availability and speed.

Welcome to Your Hungarian Internet (Thanks, Cowicide)

(Image: US Mail, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from stephoto's photostream)

110

  1. On the plus side, all the DSL and Cable providers are going to start imposing monthly download caps in the near future, so we get to pay more for less, too!

    Wait, not plus side.  The other thing.  Minus side.

  2. Pfft. As more people get on with Xbox and smartphones of course this would happen. It means nothing. Unless you’re in a third world country where most cannot afford internet service, well then of course your internet is going to be “fast”. And look a Bush administration article. Wow BB slow news day?

    1. Indeed, it is inevitable that using the internet would cause your provider to raise prices and limit availability, and of course any regulations that serve the public interest will irreperable damage the entrenched monopolies. Of course. 

      You’d think they’d at least make the first one free. First month I mean.

    2. One of the few things the United States does well on a global scale is build internet companies. Most of the world uses Facebook, Google, Apple, Android, etc. Don’t you think that industry should be nurtured with a good infrastructure? The next batch of internet companies are going to be based on cloud stuff, and if our infrastructure sucks so badly that cloud apps aren’t practical for us, that company isn’t going to come from here.

      And please don’t say our speeds are fast enough, or that our slow speed rating is based on averaging in all the rural population. I live in San Francisco, which is basically ground zero for internet innovation in this country, and I laugh out loud at my internet speeds on all my gizmos whenever I return from travelling. And I laugh at the prices too.

    3. Denial is a tool for lonely idiots to feel that they are part of something they clearly aren’t. People are wrong sometimes. How are people comfortable with being told what to think?

    4. Smartphones are not DSL or cable, and Xbox is almost always powered by DSL and cable.  Smartphones are powered by 3G/4G, both of which are actually slower than DSL and cable.  So, there is no getting around what this article means.  It also doesn’t say the policy has been reversed, so the newer administration can be blamed, too.

  3. It’s called strangleband. The more you can squeeze down on bandwidth, perversely, the more you can charge for it. So a cartel of incumbents are striving via political corruption to choke off bandwidth and grossly inflate profit margins for what is left.
    They also don’t like all the new internet media companies they can not control, all those pesky consumer communicating with each other and just too damn much truth leaking out on the internet.

    1. No, that’s been debunked many times.  ISPs operate at the state level, and many countries are larger than U.S. states.  In addition, the EU is larger than the US in total area, and still has better infrastructure.

    2. That argument could be made for the rural parts of the US, but it is damn shameful that internet service is still terrible in our major cities.

    3. According to http://www.technohugs.com/2010/08/04/top-10-countries-with-fastest-internet-speed/ the USA is behind the Russian Federation, which is a tad larger.  

  4. In Europe and Asia,  end users have a ton of choice between providers and get great service for CHEAP.   Competition.  Good.

    In America, consumers do NOT have any choices.  Take it from the local monopoly.   This is modern American capitalism!   It’s corporate communism.  All for one!

  5. Hungarian Internet?  The Internet actually works in Hungary, thank you very much.  If you think Hungary is synonymous with old and busted, you’re living in the fucking 80’s.  I was there for my niece’s wedding this last summer.  Needed Internet access for the laptop – T-Mobile was happy to sell me a USB wireless modem, prepaid, for $40, with $10 paying for a couple of gig of bandwidth.  Find that in the States, if you can.  (Note: you can’t.)

    Hungary, unlike America, is a functioning capitalist democracy.

    1. Hungary, unlike America, is a functioning capitalist democracy

      90% of telecommunications (along with 70% of financial institutions) in Hungary is foreighn-owned.  We’ll see how that “functions” in the long-term.

      1. Ambiguity is right.  Heaven help the Hungarians if there’s a war and they need to smuggle their bits and bytes across the border.

      2. Yes, but the sad thing is global companies often offer the same products for lower prices and better quality in markets outside the US.  They soak US consumers and have us pay the freight to subsidize other countries, even though we’re no longer an affluent society.

      3. Quote : “90% of telecommunications (along with 70% of financial institutions) in Hungary is foreighn-owned.” 

        Most telco and financial institutions are owned by other European companies under identical competitive rules. It seems logical in modern Europe, given Hungary’s size and history.

    2. Yeah, I got pissed too when they mentioned they were right behind Romania (where I live)…
      It’s always funny to diss some parts for their economy/IT and whatnot by comparing them with their counterparts from other “less developed” countries.

  6. This is solely due to the fact that my download speeds on Optimum Online have gone from a consistent 15-20Mbps in the evenings to 2-5Mbps.  And they refuse to admit they have an infrastructure problem.

  7. …after all, why would Internet access have any effect on national competitiveness, industry, jobs, health, education, civic engagement, and so forth?

    My guess is that, honestly, if has a lot less effect than most technophiles assume. But there’s no reason to argue about it; we can see if in, say, five years, Romania is out-competing the US in all these areas or not.

    1. >> we can see if in, say, five years, Romania is out-competing the US in all these areas or not.

      you can see it now: lots of companies outsource their tech dev to Romania already.

  8. I live in a European country where I have pretty fast (25Mb/5Mb) service for a pretty reasonable cost.  Also, if I decide I hate my provider, there are several others who will offer me the same service at a competitive price at my address.  If I wanted 100Mb/10Mb I could have that, provided I was willing to pay for it.  I’m not in a unique situation in my country.  Hooray for competition!  Hooray for regulation! 

    Ah, America, can we remember when we were actually number one at stuff?  From here I just feel like I’m watching a beautiful, wounded animal trying to chew itself out of a trap using dial-up teeth.  It’s sad.  And noisy.

      1. Ooh. Good try. But the challenge asked for a “good thing” that america was number 1 at.
        Thanks for playing.
        Did you have fun?
        See you next time!

        1. Ok, total area of arable land. That’s geographical, but countries can and do destroy it, so I think it should qualify. Hooray for the US not ruining all its farmland!

    1. Educa… no, scien… no, space travel… no, huh, this didn’t use to be this hard, AH! baseball…damnit no, football… oh right American football is just goofy. OH! Of course, war… oh you mean that’s not a good thing. Okay hold on a moment I’m sure something will come to me………………………………………………………………. nope. Can I have a different question. Wait, I’ve got it…. video games…. What… really… damn you Korea.

      1. Educa… no, scien… no, space travel… no, huh, this didn’t use to be this hard

        Actually, that sounds exactly like fights at the dinner table c. 1968.

      1. Having just spent some time in Belgium I can assure you that the US has _nothing_ on Belgium when it comes to fried food, especially fried potatoes.

        And then there’s Japan which I’d have to say is also pretty advanced in the art of frying all sorts of things.

    2. We have the greatest healthcare system in the world, until those Socialists come in and start producing Soylent Grandma by the ton.

      1. “greatest healthcare system” – by what possible measure or metric can you possibly have the iron-balled gumption to claim that???

        1. For providers it is #1.  We have the world’s highest paid doctors, the world’s most expensive hospitals, the world’s most expensive drugs produced by the world’s most profitable drug companies.  So those inside the US health care system are delighted, including the legal profession who sees doctors as “cash cows” thanks to very liberal malpractice laws.

      2. There is a typo in your post.  Somehow you typed in “socialists” instead of “for-profit insurance death panels”.  You gotta get your reality straight

    3. Killing a handful of terrorists in a third world backwater dustbin, and spending trillions to do it.  Nobody spends more for less than America!  

    1. Ooh. Good try. But the challenge asked for a “good thing” that america was number 1 at.
      Thanks for playing.
      Did you have fun?
      See you next time!

  9. We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!! We’re #25!!!

    1. (Whoops, this should have been a reply to Ambiguity, not Jack. Not sure how I managed that.)

      Well, 100% of Indiana’s telecommunications and about 98% of our financial institutions are owned outside the state.  Hungary’s part of the Union.

      Not that I disagree, mind you – Hungary had a real problem with kleptocracy right after the regime change.  But they still do better than America, son.

      1. Hungary, unlike America, is a functioning capitalist democracy.

        hahaha sorry to burst your bubble dude but right now Hungary is completely dysfunctional. We have a power-hungry prime minister and a right-wing party that took advantage of the extremely corrupt previous Socialist government to introduce both a brand-new Constitution and a draconian media law late last year that is intended to guarantee that they retain power forever.  We also have an extreme right-wing party (Jobbik) with a strong following and an alarming number of MPs in Parliament.  We have high unemployment, very high debt, outrageously high taxes, low wages, declining public services, and our S&P credit rating is just a step above junk (with a “negative” outlook).I could go on but the point is what you see as a short-term visitor and what it’s actually like to live here as a long-term resident are two different things.However we do have pretty reliable and fast internet service (at least in the capital).

        1. I haven’t read all the comments so my reply only pertains to the article….
          Boy I really had to dig to get to the meat of this article. The source article is based on a recent NYT article discussing the abysmal Internet speeds in Idaho. Searching for hard facts I followed links within links that lead to this article:  http://www.freepress.net/files/Dismantling_Digital_Deregulation.pdf 
          Within this 123 page document written in mid 2009, on page 18, is the only comparison of various countries broadband speeds (+/price/value) that I could find. These facts were compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2007. On this list USA ranks 14th, again just above Hungary…and Canada, Spain, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland, etc.
          Comparing my own broadband speeds (using http://www.speedtest.net) to this 4 year old data I’m doing pretty good on speed, price and value: Comcast Detroit = 25.14 Mbps download, 4.20 upload % by $60 p/mo = $2.39 p/Mb.
          Compared to this old data I would place 27th on price, 4th on speed (behind only Japan, France, S Korea, & Sweden) and 1st in value.
          Does any body have a link to more recent data?

  10. Of course you have choice. We offer shit, shittier and shittiest, so which one will you be signing up for today.

  11. tvugly, I’m guessing pictures of kittens in amusing situations.

    But I have no data with which to back that up.

  12. I don’t think you can have that. You may as well say “being between canada and mexico”, it’s something largely inherent to location. Now “total area of arable land per head of population” I could give you, because that implies some input from the Americans. Unfortunately it’s probably not true, I imagine Russia does very well on that measure having 1/6th of the worlds land area and only 140 million people.

  13. I have plenty of choice! I can get regular DSL from AT&T up to 6 mbps (150 GB cap) or Comcast (250 GB cap). I went with DSL when I moved here because Comcast said it would take 3 weeks to get an installation date for my already wired building.

    The sad thing is that I live in a major city. My parents live in the middle of nowhere. The only reason they have DSL (max speed 1.5 mbps) is because there was some sort of state initiative to bring DSL to rural customers.

    1. I blame AT&T for our local crap internets service.  I live in a big city, too, louiedog, and our AT&T DSL sucks. 

      1. SECONDED! It’s either AT+T or (shudder) Charter. I am in a pretty major urban area and we can’t get any higher speed than 1.5 mbps – it’s just ‘not available in our area’. If I lived 3 miles closer to their ‘equipment’, I could have twice that speed for 5 bucks more. Ugh.

      2. What’s really galling about AT&T is that they’re putting their eggs in the UVerse service basket, but rolling it out very slowly, and the higher-income, newer suburbs have been getting it first.  It also comes with really ugly sidewalk boxes.  Existing, old-tech DSL and phone customers seem to be subsidizing the development  of UVerse.  I can’t figure why else phone and DSL rates seem to be raised 10-15% annually for no good reason and for no improvement in service, and those rate increases seem to correspond with the initial regional roll out of UVerse.  Even though we can’t even get it where I live even if we wanted it.

  14. Compare like with like – that means per-capita figures, not absolute. Otherwise you could probably claim you’ve got the best internet in the world, overall. So the US is 20th out of 24, in terms of charity (by comparison, the bankrupt Ireland is 9th).

    But thanks for the universities thing :) I moved to the US because I love it, and my friends here, but it is often damn hard to defend it.

    Apparently more people (per capita!) get married in the US, too, which is arguably a good thing… though I think maybe it just reflects higher divorce rate. Or the fact that the US also has the lowest average age at first marriage.
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_mar_rat-people-marriage-rate

    1. ‘Apparently more people (per capita!) get married in the US, too, which is arguably a good thing… though I think maybe it just reflects higher divorce rate. Or the fact that the US also has the lowest average age at first marriage.’This is NOT a good thing.

      1. Well… I tried at least. There has to be something.
        I’d propose as likely:
         – produces the most widely-watched movies/tv/other media stuff.
         – produces the most widely-read authors.
         – largest single-nation economy (how do you even measure an economy? Isn’t the US’ negative or something at the moment?)

        …I don’t know. I don’t have evidence for the above guesses. I’m stuck. It was a despiriting Google search, looking for something. My Google-fu may be off, today, though.

  15. Well then, another nail in the coffin for Netflix. Luckily I use Qwikster which uses a much more reliable sourcing method, the US Postal Service, to ensure that my movies arrive promptly 6 (soon to be 5) days a week.

  16. Hmmmm….perhaps this is partly because the USA invested a lot in Internet infrastructure before many other countries.  As technology has progressed, other countries were able implement newer and faster, and most likely cheaper solutions as they did their build out. 

  17. For what it’s worth, at my house in *a small farming village* in Hungary I am paying 6000 Ft (about $28 right now) a month for “Fiber Power 120” 120Mb/s down,  10Mb/s up.  It’s as fast as advertised and honest-to-God uncapped; I have friends with the same service who’ve transferred terabytes in a month.

    At my other house in a similarly-sized town in New Hampshire, I pay about $90/month for 20Mb/s down, 2Mb/s up cable internet.   That’s the fastest net connection I am able to get there.  It works as advertised, except when it rains hard — then there are frequent outages.   It cost me about $5000 to have it installed, though, since the cable was too far from my house. And I got a warning call one month when I used over 500GB — admittedly, a large amount! — transferring scientific data from my wife’s lab. So it’s not really unlimited, though they won’t tell me what the limit actually is.

    At my place in New York City, I pay about $60/month for 30Mb/s down, 5Mb/s up.  I could get faster connectivity (up to the 100Mb/s range, e.g. with FIOS) but it would cost me significantly more. As far as I know it’s unlimited-ish, but I haven’t really pressed my luck there.

    All in all, I’m getting by far the best bandwidth for the least money in Hungary.

    So why is the article entitled “welcome to your Hungarian internet” again?  I’m confused,

  18. For what it’s worth, at my house in *a small farming village* in Hungary I am paying 6000 Ft (about $28 right now) a month for “Fiber Power 120” 120Mb/s down,  10Mb/s up.  It’s as fast as advertised.

    At my other house in a similarly-sized town in New Hampshire, I pay about $90/month for 20Mb/s down, 2Mb/s up cable internet.   That’s the fastest net connection I am able to get there.  It works as advertised, except when it rains hard — then there are frequent outages.   It cost me about $5000 to have it installed, though, since the cable was too far from my house.

    At my place in New York City, I pay about $60/month for 30Mb/s down, 5Mb/s up.  I could get faster connectivity (up to the 100Mb/s range, e.g. with FIOS) but it would cost me significantly more.

    All in all, I’m getting by far the best speed for the least money in Hungary.

    So why is the article entitled “welcome to your Hungarian internet” again?  I’m confused,  

  19. For what it’s worth, at my house in *a small farming village* in Hungary I am paying 6000 Ft (about $28 right now) a month for “Fiber Power 120” 120Mb/s down,  10Mb/s up.  It’s as fast as advertised.

    At my other house in a similarly-sized town in New Hampshire, I pay about $90/month for 20Mb/s down, 2Mb/s up cable internet.   That’s the fastest net connection I am able to get there.  It works as advertised, except when it rains hard — then there are frequent outages.   It cost me about $5000 to have it installed, though, since the cable was too far from my house.

    At my place in New York City, I pay about $60/month for 30Mb/s down, 5Mb/s up.  I could get faster connectivity (up to the 100Mb/s range, e.g. with FIOS) but it would cost me significantly more.

    All in all, I’m getting by far the best speed for the least money in Hungary.

    So why is the article entitled “welcome to your Hungarian internet” again?  I’m confused,  

    1. You seem to have three houses in Hungary, three in New Hampshire and three places in New York City. Impressive, but all those Internet bills have to add up I guess?

    2. >> So why is the article entitled “welcome to your Hungarian internet” again?  I’m confused,

      I’d be confused too if I had to live in THREE FUCKING HOUSES.

  20. Disqus error message on the subject of shitty internet:

    Currently there are some larger-than-normal imports ahead in the queue and are delaying later imports.
    Once these have processed, the rest will begin catching up. If you have already
    submitted an import you won’t need to do anything else; your import will be
    started once the others ahead of it are completed. Sorry for any hassle.

    Oh, the irony is as bittersweet as… tears, on Turkish Delight.

    Edited for cleanup: then this post was all weirdly jumbled, with twenty lines between paragraphs and no spaces between sentences.

    1. Edited for cleanup: then this post was all weirdly jumbled, with twenty lines between paragraphs and no spaces between sentences.

      Disqus has recently picked up the habit of inserting breaks into pasted text.

  21. It’s either we put our money toward military campaigns that inevitably end up with our humiliating defeat, or toward building up our own infrastructure.  It’s either we try to change the world into our own image, and fail, or we become the example of what we want the rest of the world to be.  It’s either we lazily accept the status quo and say ‘That’s not so bad’, or we change the underlying structure and say, ‘That’s still not good enough, we can do better, cheaper, and more efficiently’.  

    1. He’s a Republican.  That’s what Republicans do.  US spends about half of all the money spent by the entire world on “national defense”.  According to Representative Ron Paul, we have military bases in 130 countries.  We spend close to $700 billion a year maintaining our “access to oil” and defending ourselves against any possible agressor…  Rest of the world (US is about 5% of the world’s population) in total spends about what the US does.  In effect, US defense costs everyone living in the US about $2,243 dollars per year on a per capita basis.  Or $187 a month (again on a per capita basis)  And since our health care costs on a per capita basis are 50% higher than those of any other nation on Earth, in fact exceeding the total revenues of the federal government by a good margin, it is easy to see why living costs in the US are so high.  As I am a Libertarian, I feel we pay far too much for either defense or health care.  Along with a government that spends money like a drunken sailor on shore leave after six months at sea.  Unfortunately the sailor has a “no limits” credit card and he is using it instead of cash…

  22. So, I have this crazy idea… Crazy because politics and infighting would not make it happen… But considering the U.S. Postal Service is dying here in the U.S., what about nationalizing ISPs and making them somehow in charge of ISP management?

    Now that I wrote that it sounds ridiculous, but don’t other countries place phone service in the hands of their postal service? Or am I imagining things?

    1. You’re hallucinating. The US Postal Service is not dying. It’s another ginned up controversy to keep you distracted from the two massive clusterfucks in asia,

  23. After having experienced the epiphany that is Flets Hikari (Fiber Optic connection) internet in Japan, I just might have to stay here. 100mb/s down and 15mb/s up. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

  24. I’m in the USA.  I  read, write, post, comment, learn, inspire, discourage,  view, stream, download, upload, search, find, and remember anything I want anytime, all the time. I was at peace, content, serene. Now, I learn that I could be 25 internet speeds peacefuler, contenteder and serener.  I am now  angry, unsatisfied and agitated.  

  25. like everything worth anything them Texas boys were willing to sell anything of value to the highest bidder.  Who cares if the country get thrown under the bus

  26. San Francisco – The center of much of the Internet revolution has ONE broadband option: Comcast and has been granted a monopoly by the city.

    The FCC needs to realize that its job is to protect the interests of USERS not the service providers, refocus itself, and than break all local Internet service monopoly agreements that were approved by local politicians with bribes and campaign contributions from the ISPs.

    1. Haggie, you’re quite incorrect about San Francisco.  Not only do you have Comcast, but you have DSL, and the Supervisors finally approved AT&T U-verse as well, so you’ll start seeing construction soon.  And with DSL, you not only have the choice of telco-provided service, you have the choice of many different ISPs using telco wires, which means that while you’re stuck with the speed limits based on your distance to the central office, there’s a wide range of policies and prices (e.g. most of them don’t provide bandwidth caps, and some provide their own DSLAMs.)     And while I don’t know if they’re still running, there are Wifi coops providing service around the city.  The FCC long since banned local cable monopolies, though that doesn’t mean that overbuild cable companies like RCN see a business opportunity in your city.

      I’ve lived in the Bay Area almost 20 years, and one thing that’s been consistent the entire time has been the Bay Guardian complaining about the cable TV service, since one or two carriers before Comcast.  It’s a difficult city to do infrastructure business in, partly because of geography, but also because of local politics – getting approval to dig up the streets or to put equipment boxes in the corner takes a lot more negotiation than in most places, and various local groups have always wanted their own local TV channels in return for cooperation.

      Disclaimer – I do work for AT&T, but in an unrelated part of the company, and this is entirely my personal opinion, not the company’s. 

  27. Well…here’s a question.  Since it was a Bush-administration policy that ultimately brought us to this point…why hasn’t Obama done anything to reverse it?  Hope and change, anyone??

    1.  why hasn’t Obama done anything to reverse it?  

      I can see the cabinet meeting now: “Osama or faster internet service to Podunk? Afghanistan? The economy? Or lower lag times?” 

      Dude has a lot on his plate and I’m sure everyone has something they think he’s neglecting. Why was this change made in the first place? For what donor or industry? 

  28. Is this situation because the FCC bans cheap, reliable service or because it doesn’t require it? Different things there. 

    Lot of components to this. As business trends through consolidation to monopoly (from the 7 baby bells and Ma Bell to just 4 now), competition falls by the wayside. 

    If I was in local telecom/utility regulation, any monopoly player (telco/dialtone, cable) who wanted to offer services that compete against another monopoly (phone via cable, tv from the telco) would have to reduce the price of their granted monopoly service to as close to $0 as they could get. We don’t grant monopolies so people can build competitors on top of them: they need to choose. 

    In my case, I can’t get my guaranteed 7Mbit service from the telco, even though I live in the former hometown of a Baby Bell and within 2 miles of a major research university. 

Comments are closed.