U.S. broadband is costly and continues to lag the world

Yet another report highlights that U.S. broadband (aka “high speed internet”) is overpriced and underperforms relative to the rest of the world.

This report is from the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

Meanwhile, in larger U.S. cities, we continue to observe higher prices for slower speeds by comparison. In the U.S., for example, the best deal for a 150 Mbps home broadband connection from cable and phone companies is $130/month, offered by Verizon FiOS. By contrast, the international cities we surveyed offer comparable speeds for less than $80/month, with most coming in at about $50/month.

When it comes to mobile broadband, the cheapest price for around 2 GB of data in the U.S. ($30/month from T-Mobile) is twice as much as what users in London pay ($15/month from T-Mobile). It costs more to purchase 2 GB of data in a U.S. city than it does in any of the cities surveyed in Europe.


In July 2013 Verizon announced a new 500 Mbps service (with 100 Mbps upload speeds) available in selected areas of its FiOS service. However, this new 500 Mbps service costs around $300 a month. In Amsterdam, a symmetrical 500 Mbps broadband plan (with 500 Mbps download and upload speeds) costs just over $86.


In cities like New York, where Verizon’s franchise agreement promised to expand FiOS to every household in the city, connectivity remains an issue, and most residents have no options other than the incumbent cable company or Verizon’s DSL service.


In Copenhagen, for example, the “best” plan available in 2012 was 10 GB of data at speeds up to 15 Mbps for around $35/month. In 2013, however, 15 GB of data at speeds up to 20 Mbps costs around $28/month.


One critical difference between international and U.S. mobile providers remains in the way that data caps are implemented. Internationally, most providers throttle users when they hit their data caps, slowing connection speeds for the remainder of the monthly billing cycle. In general, they do not assess data overage fees. In the U.S., however, the opposite is true: more and more providers are monetizing data caps. Last year, for example, Verizon switched from throttling to charging for data overages, leaving T-Mobile as the only U.S. provider which throttles rather than charging steep overage fees.


2013 Internet Speeds
Source: New America Foundation

The report focuses on these cities:

  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  2. Berlin, Germany
  3. Bristol, VA, United States
  4. Bucharest, Romania
  5. Chattanooga, TN, United States
  6. Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. Dublin, Ireland
  8. Hong Kong, China
  9. Kansas City, KS, and Kansas City, MO, United States
  10. Lafayette, LA, United States
  11. London, United Kingdom
  12. Los Angeles, CA, United States
  13. Mexico City, Mexico
  14. New York, NY, United States
  15. Paris, France
  16. Prague, Czech Republic
  17. Riga, Latvia
  18. San Francisco, CA, United States
  19. Seoul, South Korea
  20. Tokyo, Japan
  21. Toronto, Canada
  22. Washington, DC, United States
  23. Zurich, Switzerland

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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