Why US Broadband Is So Slow

Population density, delivery methods give Asia, Europe a leg up
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2009 9:00 AM CDT
Internet connections in the US are slower than those in Japan, but it's not as bad as you might think.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – In terms of broadband, the US seems to lag behind the international pack, with slower, more expensive, less available Internet. As President Obama campaigns to improve America’s lot, Saul Hansell compares connection speeds in the New York Times. The US is middle of the pack, with an average speed of 5.2 megabits per second, compared to 3.2-6.4 Mbps for Europe.

That doesn’t look terrible—until you compare it to16.7 Mbps in Japan, or the 10-20 European city-dwellers enjoy. America’s DSL providers purposely give city folk the same speeds as suburbanites, instead of optimizing for denser populations. Faster fiber-optic cable is more widespread elsewhere, with 4.1 million US homes having fiber service to 8.2 million in Japan—but US providers are expanding.