The Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation just released a report titled “The Cost of Connectivity.” The report, authored by Hibah Hussain, Danielle Kehl, Benjamin Lennett, Chiehyu Li, and Patrick Lucey examines 22 cities across the planet for speed, triple play offerings, and what consumers can get for $35. The results, unfortunately, are not surprising. From the Report Summary:
The results indicate that U.S. consumers in major cities tend to pay higher prices for slower speeds compared to consumers abroad. For example, when comparing triple play packages in the 22 cities surveyed, consumers in Paris can purchase a 100 Mbps bundle of television, telephone, and high-speed Internet service for the equivalent of approximately $35 (adjusted for PPP). By contrast, in Lafayette, LA, the top American city, the cheapest available [triple play] package costs around $65 and includes just a 6 Mbps Internet connection. A comparison of Internet plans available for around $35 shows similar results. Residents of Hong Kong have access to Internet service with symmetrical download and upload speeds of 500 Mbps while residents of New York City and Washington, D.C. will pay the equivalent price for Internet service with maximum download speeds that are 20 times slower (up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2 Mbps).
The results add weight to a growing body of evidence that suggests that the U.S. is lagging behind many of its international counterparts, most of whom have much higher levels of competition and, in turn, offer lower prices and faster Internet service. It suggests that policymakers need to re-evaluate our current policy approaches to increase competition and encourage more affordable high-speed Internet service in the U.S.
Forbes’ Bruce Upbin reviewed the report and the implications and, once again, pointed out what we all know:
This inferiority is almost purely a function of the lack of true competition and pro-consumer regulation in the telecom industry. According to the National Broadband Plan of 2010, 78% of American households have a choice between two companies for broadband: the telephone company and the cable company. Another 13% have one choice.
Also no surprise is that Lafayette and Chattanooga, both communities that invest in their own fiber insfrastructure, were at the top among U.S. cities for speed and affordability. The parallel between lack of affordability and lack of competition runs through the report.
The report is 54 pages; download the PDF here to get more details.