Study: U.S. Bests Europe in Internet Access Speed, Scope, Coverage. Sometimes.

July 28, 2014
By: Gary Kim

It often has been asserted -- not without reason -- that U.S. high speed access generally does not feature speeds as fast as those available in the world’s leading markets, such as South Korea. Rarely, if ever, has the United States actually ranked at the top of international metrics for Internet access speed or some other measures of telecommunications adoption.

Among the reasons, it has been argued, is that any particular service created in the United States must cover a continental-sized territory with a high percentage of remote, expensive locations to connect.

More germane, some have offered, are comparisons between the United States and Europe. And there the story gets more complicated. It often has been the case that U.S. consumers lagged European consumers on one or more measures of mobile adoption, for example.

But the landscape is shifting. In fact, on some measures, U.S. consumers have access to, and use, some advanced services more than consumers in Europe.

For example, a far greater percentage of U.S. households have access to the Internet at 25 Mbps or faster.

On a national basis, 82 percent of U.S. consumers can buy access at 25 Mbps or faster, compared to 54 percent of Europeans.

In rural areas, 48 percent of U.S. consumers have access to 25 Mbps or faster services, compared to 12 percent in Europe, according to a study by Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania law school professor.

The study also found that the United States had 23 percent fiber-to-premises coverage, compared to 12 percent in Europe.

The United States also has 86 percent coverage of Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE (News - Alert)), compared to 27 percent LTE coverage in Europe.

U.S. download speeds during peak times (weekday evenings) averaged 15 Mbps, below the European average of 19 Mbps, however.

During peak hours, actual U.S. download speeds were 96 percent of what was advertised, compared to Europe, where consumers received only 74 percent of advertised download speeds.

U.S. consumer experience in the areas of latency and packet loss also was better than in Europe.

U.S. broadband was cheaper than European broadband for all speed tiers below 12 Mbps, the study found. But U.S. broadband was more expensive for higher speed tiers, although the higher cost was justified in no small part by the fact that U.S. Internet users on average consumed 50 percent more bandwidth than their European counterparts.


Edited by Rory J. Thompson