Broadband Abroad: Internet Connectivity Outside of the United States

Nearly 60 publications in countries ranging from Australia and Bangladesh to Venezuela and Vietnam either carry the PC World name or are associated with us in some way. So we asked editors at several of them to tell us how their readers get online. Not surprisingly, our colleagues report that many countries are substantially ahead of the United States in many respects.

For example, in the United Kingdom, you can buy DSL service with a download speed of up to 24 megabits per second. In Norway, some people have fiber-optic connections as fast as 100 mbps. And in Italy and Spain, broadband service is cheap, and dial-up service is free (except for the cost of the local call). Still, many countries have their own connection quirks; read about them below.

Italy

In Italy, Internet users can subscribe to fiber-optic service from FastWeb. According to PC World Italia's Maurizio Lazzaretti, the service provides 10 mbps of bandwidth, though that's also used for television delivery. DSL service is less expensive but more common in less densely populated areas, with 4 mbps being the most common option; it costs about 20 euros per month (around $25) plus VAT (tax). Fiber-optic service costs twice that. With both types of services, subscribers can add VoIP capability for around 20 euros per month. Dial-up service is free, except for the local call.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, people have a few more options, though fiber optics isn't yet one of them. DSL speeds of up to 24 mbps for downloads and 1.3 mbps for uploads are available, though they're geographically limited, says Simon Jary, editorial director of PC Advisor. Rosemary Haworth, PC Advisor's features editor, adds that "in practice, the availability of such speeds is still very much limited to places within spitting distance of a British Telephone exchange enabled for such rates, so [customers] get fobbed off with 18 mbps if they're lucky." We should all be so lucky.

Cable Internet connections range from 2 mbps to 10 mbps download speeds, with 256 kbps to 384 kbps uploads, and they're marginally more popular than DSL accounts, says Haworth. Nearly 70 percent of all UK Internet connections are made via broadband--much higher than in the United States.

But the average consumer broadband connection is more like 2 mbps, with an average cost of between £15 and £20 ($28 to $37) per month. "It's common for services to have capped usage limits, at around 2GB per month," adds Jary.

"The real flyer at the moment is TalkTalk's broadband and phone package," says Jary. The package includes 8-mbps downloads and 448-kbps uploads, with a 40GB usage cap; it includes unlimited calls to the UK and international landlines (28 countries), all for just £21 ($39) per month. "This is causing a price war on UK broadband, with others soon to offer combined broadband/phone packages," says Jary.

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