New data shows why US internet shined during the pandemic

New data shows why US internet shined during the pandemic

Bret Swanson

The long-running battles over net neutrality and the regulatory classification of the internet may have been recently quiescent. Inevitably, however, these debates will return in some form. When they do, we should remember that despite endless public policy mistakes over the last two years, the performance of the internet was a shining counter example.

An update on fixed broadband speeds shows why most Americans could rely on the internet when they could rely on little else. The new international comparison comes from George Ford of the Phoenix Center. In the past, I used internet traffic to compare national broadband health across countries (also here and here). In this case, Ford uses voluminous global speed data from Ookla, which operates the speedtest.net service.

Source: Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies

The analysis covers 4,480 cities with populations of 50,000 people or more in 98 countries. The speed measurements — taken via 135 million tests over 39.3 million unique devices — are from the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

Here are some highlights:

US mean download speeds, at 204.7 megabits per second, are faster than those of any other global region, both in the full sample and the “high income” sample.

US upload speeds are second only to East Asia, mostly because the US relies more on asynchronous cable modem networks while Asia has more synchronous fiber-to-the-premises connections.

Of the 98 individual countries sampled, the US ranks fifth in download speeds and 28th in upload speeds.

Source: Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies

A few small, densely populated nations rival US broadband performance. But for a geographically large nation with less population density, even in its cities, the US still ranks at the very top.

Courtesy: (AEI.org)

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