America’s Broadband Is Not Broken

Richard Bennett April 22, 2013
April 22, 2013

Critics of the American broadband system like to charge that our services are slower than those of most other countries, an oft-repeated fib. It certainly was the case that the average speeds of the most popular service plans in use in the U.S. during the economic collapse of 2008-2009 were not the world’s fastest: On average, American broadband speeds were 22nd in the world in late 2009. Tremendous attention was paid to America’s 2009 standing, but very little mention has been made about the fact that our position in the global ranking has since risen to 8th place thanks to steady increases year after year. 

Given that some of the large American broadband suppliers, such as Comcast, have doubled the speeds of most accounts without an increase in price, we can expect our rankings to continue improving. It’s unlikely that the U.S. will ever seize the title for the world’s fastest broadband from Hong Kong (essentially, a high-rise city), but there’s no reason to believe that American service levels are a barrier to innovation.

The argument for a massive reorganization of America’s broadband markets depends on a set of facts that don’t exist. Our system needs constant attention at the margins, to ensure full participation and development in the right direction, but the system is fundamentally sound and in no need of major repairs. I wish we could say as much for our utility networks.