The FCC recently released its third annual International Broadband Data Report (IBDR), and the news is not good for the U.S.
The report said that "some recent trends," show overall improvements, U.S. comparisons to other countries are much more dismal. When it comes to the actual service provided to U.S. consumers, we find ourselves not atop, but well down in the list of developed countries. The FCC examined 38 countries with developed broadband markets, and found some interesting data. For instance:
- When it comes to consumer prices, "We find U.S. prices for standalone fixed broadband are in the mid-level range in our 38 country survey, but are higher in higher speed tiers."
- As for universal access, "The United States ranks 15th out of 34 countries for overall fixed (wired) broadband subscriptions (27.3) per 100 inhabitants."
- And in terms of broadband speeds, "The United States ranks 24th (11.6 Mbps) in terms of actual download speeds based on the weighted averages of all city data."
The report emphasizes that absolute comparisons are difficult because differing standards prevail in different countries, but in chart after chart, the U.S. falls in middle or lower. The reasons for this lackluster performance aren't difficult to discern: widespread inequality in service between affluent and low-income geographic areas, and a failure to regulate either service or pricing.
That's not to say that everyone is suffering. One group in particular is doing very well - corporations. As the report noted, "Consumers all over the world are using applications and services created by U.S. companies, including social networks, search engines, and e-commerce."
Speed Matters finds that the gap between communications corporate profits and service - as well as the stagnant and low wages paid to employees - is not a matter of pride for the U.S., but a problem to be solved.
International Broadband Data Report (Third) (FCC, Aug. 13, 2012)