America: A Broadband Loser?

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We just got our most recent copy of CQ Weekly, and it has an interesting section on broadband access. It’s clearly written for an audience that lacks tech savvy (section header: “What is broadband and how many people have it?”), but it has some really interesting stats on how far America has fallen behind as an international leader on high-speed internet. All sources: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Broadband penetration rankings, in 2001:

1. South Korea
2. Canada
3. Sweden
4. United States
5. Belgium
5. Denmark
7. Netherlands
8. Iceland
9. Austria
10. Germany
11. Japan
12. Switzerland
13. Norway
14. Finland
15. Spain

Broadband penetration rankings, in 2007:

1. Denmark
2. Netherlands
3. Iceland
4. Norway
5. Switzerland
6. Finland
7. South Korea
8. Sweden
9. Luxembourg
10. Canada
11. United Kingdom
12. Belgium
13. France
14. Germany
15. United States

We do equally poorly in terms of broadband speed. Here are the average broadband download speeds (Mbps) of 15 developed nations:

1 Japan 93.7
2 France 44.2
3 South Korea 43.3
4 Sweden 21.4
5 New Zealand 13.6
6 Italy 13.1
7 Finland 13.0
8 Portugal 13.0
9 Australia 12.1
10 Norway 11.8
11 Luxembourg 10.7
12 United Kingdom 10.6
13 Germany 9.2
14 United States 8.9
15 Canada 7.8

Clearly, Japan is killing the game and the United States has a lot of catching up to do. The fact that American broadband is so slow is compounded by the fact that it’s expensive. According to CQ, the United States ranks 22nd out of 25 countries in terms of the affordability of broadband. The average monthly price of broadband in the States is $53.06. It’s cheaper in Turkey. It’s much cheaper in Japan, where a month of hi-speed runs $34.21. And it’s cheapest in Finland, where it costs $31.18.

We’re falling behind as a country. And because the American economy has transitioned and continues to transition from a manufacturing economy to an information economy, more and more people will be left out of America’s next phases unless consistent and affordable hi-speed comes to rural and urban areas.

That’s why many consider it important that we have a president that understands technology and has a strong technology platform. Much more on that later today…

Update: An examination of McCain’s technology policy.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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