U.S. High-Speed Internet Lags Behind on Price, Cost

12:08 minutes

For less than $40 a month, residents of Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bucharest, and Paris can enjoy lightning-fast Internet download and upload speeds of 1,000 Mbps. Compare that to the U.S., where the same money might buy you a comparably sluggish 15 Mbps/1 Mbps connection. Even in cities like Chattanooga and Kansas City, where high-speed Internet rivals the gigabit speeds found abroad, it still costs about twice as much, according to a new report from the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, called “The Cost of Connectivity.”

The reason for America’s low-speed, high-cost Internet? High-speed Internet service providers have a monopoly in many markets, says Susan Crawford of Harvard Law School. That means there’s little pressure from competitors or regulators to provide better, cheaper service. But in the absence of federal action, she says, mayors around the country are leading the way.

Earlier this week, we asked you how fast your internet was, and got over 500 responses from around the country. According to this survey, the average American gets 30.6 mbps for downloads, 12.6 mbps for uploads, and pays $63 for it.

In this map visualization by SciFri’s education manager Ariel Zych, the size of the circle represents download speed, while the color of the circle represents cost (the darker the color, the more expensive it is).

Segment Guests

Susan Crawford

Susan Crawford is author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age (Yale University Press, 2013), co-author of The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance (Jossey Bass, 2014), and visiting professor at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

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