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Broadband: How the US Stacks up

Groups calling for a more robust broadband policy in the U.S. say the county has fallen behind in several key statistics.

Many groups have expressed concern that the U.S. continues to fall behind other nations in broadband adoption. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked the U.S. 15th among its 30 member nations in broadband adoption per capita as of December.

Some commentators have questioned the OECD numbers, saying the organization's recent reports don't take factors such as population density and even weather into account.

Still, critics of the current U.S. broadband policy have pointed to other problems in addition to adoption: Many rural areas lack access to broadband, and there's little competition among broadband providers even in some suburban and urban areas.

In addition, U.S. broadband users have slower speeds and pay higher prices than consumers in several other countries.

The broadband speeds in the U.S., compared to the other industrialized countries in the OECD, are just as concerning as the lack of adoption, some critics say. The average download speed among consumer broadband services in the U.S. is 8.9M bps (bits per second), according to the OECD, slower than average speeds in 18 other OECD countries.

Japan's average download speed is more than 10 times faster, at 93.7M bps, while France's is 44.2M bps and South Korea's is 43.3M bps. Average download speeds in Sweden, New Zealand, Italy, Portugal, Finland and Australia are above 12M bps, according to the OECD.

In addition, U.S. broadband customers pay more than customers in 17 other OECD nations, according to a report released this month by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a tech-focused think tank.

U.S. customers pay US$2.83 per each megabit per second of service, on a monthly basis, for the lowest advertised price in the country; while Japanese customers pay $0.13. Customers in South Korea, Finland, France and Sweden all pay less than $0.43 per megabit per second on a monthly basis, the report says.

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