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Why Broadband In North America Is Not That Slow

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the aside-from-the-throttling dept.

Networking 376

An anonymous reader writes "The Globe & Mail has an article written in response to a recent study done by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard about how far behind the rest of the world the US and Canada are with regard to broadband internet. The refutation basically tears apart Harvard's analysis and shows why the US and Canada are actually far ahead of most European countries. 'Canada has a true broadband penetration rate of close to 70 per cent of households. And North Americans use the Internet somewhat more intensively than do Europeans, according to Cisco Systems data on Internet traffic. Further, business Internet traffic in North America appears to be at levels substantially higher than elsewhere in the world. Sadly, there is little systematic effort by international agencies to measure the intensity of Internet usage. Instead, we see comparisons of advertised speeds and "price per advertised megabit," which are especially misleading. Advertised broadband speeds vary from actual speeds. In North America, this is largely a result of "network overhead," and is quite modest. In Europe, however, the variation is often dramatic.'"

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Right (5, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389526)


[ ] Can I get 1 Gb/s to home in Canada? (I can in my home town Stockholm)
[ ] Is the true broadbrand penetration 98+% like in most of the Europe?
[ ] Is the quality of line actually such that you get angry when the line goes down for a few minutes once per every 1-3 years?

Seeing all the complaints here on slashdot too, I really don't think it's the same. Often times I am even surprised how you put up with it.

Hell, even in the beginning of 2000 the competition was so bad that features that usually only came with business lines were offered to tech-savvy home users. Needed static ip's or a block of 32 or larger ip's? Ask for it and they gave.

I also seriously doubt North Americans using Internet more intensively. Even if I personally dislike it, P2P is pretty damn rampant and that takes a lot of bandwidth. Also everyone uses YouTube and other high bandwidth sites (which obviously have local datacenters because of the demand)

What comes to business lines, I think they are quite equivalent to each other. Premium, fail-proof lines cost in both NA and EU. But as the home-lines in EU are reliable and theres no bullshit terms to deny such, a lot of businesses who directly aren't working on the Internet use those.

Re:Right (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31389606)

Ha - even paying big $$$, "fail-proof" is a relative term here in the US. I've been chasing Speakeasy for three months to fix the office T1, which regularly drops 10% of outgoing packets and spikes from 50ms latency to 3000ms every 10-15 seconds. They claim it's caused by "line utilization", but don't have an answer as to why it continues even when using a machine plugged directly into the interface with no other clients. Ugh.

Re:Right (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389684)

Time to change service provider then. We were on Wave2Wave for a while (should be called Wave to Nowhere). The worst ISP EVER. Replaced and now happy.

Re:Right (5, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389770)

I'm leaving AT&T to go to cable based solutions for a dozen users in an office. I know the reliability will be only 99%, but my 99.99% SLA is useless, as they go down all the time (and compensating me, which is a joke since I need the service, not $50 credits). Moving from ATT's service of 12 phone lines and two bonded T1s to cable phone lines and two 5/1.5 internet circuits will save me over $30,000 per year and have me at a FIXED PRICE, unlimited LD. In the current economy, this means three people won't have to get their hours cut to 50% time during the slow half the year. Since the level of service that I actually get will be the same, I would rather give the money to the employees who would otherwise be cut back, rather than AT&T who has failed on every level since they bought out Bell South.

For the servers that need better than 99% uptime (credit applications, etc.), we rented a box on Server Beach, their special unmetered 10mb connection for less than $150 a month. As a side note, Bell South was actually good in service and product before AT&T bought them out. The other day AT&T wouldn't issue a trouble ticket and told us that they would have someone there 24 hours later, at 5pm the next day, in spite of our 4 hour SLA. I get better service from Time Warner for my $100 home internet/tv than I do from AT&T under contract for several thousand per month.

If you think that cable is better ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390332)

... you are in for a huge surprise and a lot of down time.

When it comes to internet, cable solutions are still very unreliable. One example, how many days of down time did cable customers had when Comcast decide to test their new DNS server??? Three days. Then you get dynamically throuttle back because they don't want you to use the bandwidth you legally paid for .... basically using the alleged P2P usage as a cheap excuse. Don't believe me .... check out the BBB for all the complains.

Re:Right (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389798)

I've been waiting five years for BT in the UK to fix my line. I can still sometimes hear other people making phone calls, and signal to noise ratio on my ADSL line varies by 10-12dB throughout the day. ADSL2+ is not an option as my line to the exchange is too noisy, I have to live with my 2.5Mb/s line for another ten plus years until they put fibre to the kerb.

Re:Right (1)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389980)

I've been waiting five years for BT in the UK to fix my line. I can still sometimes hear other people making phone calls, and signal to noise ratio on my ADSL line varies by 10-12dB throughout the day. ADSL2+ is not an option as my line to the exchange is too noisy, I have to live with my 2.5Mb/s line for another ten plus years until they put fibre to the kerb.

Agreed, broadband is one of the many areas where the UK lags behind the continent ... BT lines are absolute crap more than a couple of miles from the exchange and while they advertise 20Mbps you'll be lucky to get more than 2. And there is no motivation for them to upgrade the lines at all, and Virgin's cable rollout will take ages to get anywhere except London ...

Re:Right (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390414)

I once worked for these guys. They are a completely dysfunctional company. Like some sort of corporate jellyfish, they just float through life with nobody really doing anything because the guy responsible for the gas pedal can't see the road, and the guy in charge of the brakes never met the guy who does the gas, and the guy steering just runs over everyone because it is the gas pedal and brake guy's fault anyway.

Re:Right (3, Insightful)

Durrik (80651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390652)

I've had the same problem with ADSL in Vancouver. My ISP is Teksavvy (Who're Great) but they resell Telus (Who suck). For three years now I've been unhappy with my 3/1 line. It started out I was able to get 2.5 / 384. But the SN ratio sucked. I complained, Telus tweeked the profile. I kept having my ADSL drop, I complained, Telus blamed my modem. I got a new modem. I kept getting dropped, I complained, Telus blamed that my wiring was wrong. I replaced the wiring from the demark, replaced it with Cat-4 cable, put the filter right at the DMark, filtered the entire house, no improvement. I complained Telus said their was DC on my line. I switched modems back to the original, no improvement. I got myself a new outdoor filter, no improvement. I complained, they said it'd cost $200 an hour for them to send a tech to look at it. My ADSL got worse, went down to 1.5/256 (Which was not good true, all the speed tests I could find were saying 900 down and maybe 105 up). Started the process of switching to Cable, got that in and started to switch my services across, (But it has no static IP address, want it for at least DNS). ADSL completely died, I complained, Telus said their was no problem on their end, must be my end, closed the ticket. Called back on a Monday, hit the roof, told Teksavvy to yell at Telus, they did. Found that the connection on the outside of the remote box was corroded, and fell apart and was in several pieces on the ground. ADSL is now at 3/1, very good SN. But it took three years of Telus saying everything was good on their end, it must be my end, and for the ADSL to completely fail before they would even look at their end and fix the problem. I'm keeping both cable and adsl active, since occasionally one or the other will go down (At least once a week right now, mostly is the cable, but its 5x faster then the ADSL)

With my experience with Canada ADSL I'll have to say if this study is correct then the rest of the world must be terrible, no better then a 300 baud modem to AOL. But I just don't see the complaints coming out of Europe and Asia. Also I use to work for a telecom that produced IPDSLAMS (Not where I worked but another division) and they were telling everyone how they were happy to be rolling out 58 mbps ADSL to Japan, that was 6-7 years ago. I have 3 mbps ADSL now and 15 mbps cable (When everyone is asleep and hopefully my house is the only place with power). There's no way that North America is better then the rest of the world.

Re:Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390588)

Dude a T1? Jesus 100mbps fiber and copper transport and have been pretty cheap for half a decade. 100mbps of transit ontop of that is dirt cheap.

Speakeasy? Really? Your example of a fail-proof link is Speakeasy? Maybe in a 'enterprise' world and I do use that term loosely cause I doubt you have too many employees on that T1.

Re:Right (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389868)

So, why isn't there a tag on the story, "Horseshit"? That's what it is, nothing more, and nothing less.

*takes deep breath*
Ahhhh, I love the smell of horseshit in the morning!

This is just a reminder. (2, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389984)

The area of Sweden is about 450,000 square kilometers. The area of the state of California is about 425,000 square kilometers. The number of illegal immigrants alone, in the US, is estimated at around 10-15 million, depending who you ask. The population of Sweden is about 9 million.

You can throw out all these comparisons of broadband, but when you get down to it, it turns out that things are radically different over on this continent. Just want to point that out before we start saying that one or the other is morally superior.

Density is what matters, not size (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390050)

Yes, California is a lot denser populated than Sweden. Hence, it is a lot cheaper to build out infrastructure in California. The actual size does not matter. Larger country with more people => same as several smaller countries, or likely even better due to economics of scale.

Why does Sweden (sparsley populated) have a lot of fiber build out + really large ADSL build out and low prices?

Re:Density is what matters, not size (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390800)

North America has a population density of 32 people per square mile. Europe has a population density of 134 people per square mile. I didn't read TFA of course but it seems if we are comparing continents...

Re:This is just a reminder. (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390080)

The area size really doesn't have anything to do with it. Population density does, but that also is almost half in the EU compared to US.

That combined with the fact that most of these companies aren't even multinationals, so they don't benefit from economics of scale or small taxes like the few major US ISP's.

Re:This is just a reminder. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390210)

Even population density is mostly useless; the people of Anchorage get lumped into Alaska, but they aren't going to be a great deal more expensive to serve than any other suburban area.

(and really, the economies of scale for serving a couple of million people are probably pretty similar to those for serving a couple of tens of millions of people)

Re:This is just a reminder. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390642)

What you really want to know is how easy it will be to service someone in Carson City, Scaguay or at the geometric center of Kansas.

What is the EU or Swedish equivalent of the geometric center of Kansas, or the geometric center of any of it's quadrants?

Re:This is just a reminder. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390736)

No, I want to know what the marginal infrastructure costs are to serve a given percentage of the population in each country (so at a given percent, the people getting service would cost, on average, less than the marginal cost, but the marginal cost would indicate the difficulty in increasing coverage).

I really have no idea if the geometric center of a country is related to that cost, but I don' think so, as political boundaries don't take where people are located internally into account.

Re:This is just a reminder. (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390676)

The area size really doesn't have anything to do with it. Population density does, but that also is almost half in the EU compared to US.

Okay, maybe I'm not understanding you correctly... But population density is higher in EU than it is in the US... Just, check wikipedia...
Sweden have better broadband, because their government have created most of the infrastructure (the backbone)... Thus the natural monopoly is handled by an entity that cannot discriminate...
Things are similar in Denmark, here major the larges telecommunication company have been forced to license it's lines to thirdparties at reasonable prices...
So it's probably due to subsidization and regulation... In words that will scare Americans, it's good old fashion socialism... :)

Re:This is just a reminder. (5, Insightful)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390092)

It's not just size and population density.

For example, consider a large North American city like New York. Very high population density, very wealthy, lots of demand. By your logic, broadband there should be cheap and fast, but it isn't (or not at Scandinavian levels anyway).

(don't worry about moral superiority, this debate is really just frustration almost everywhere that we can't get the astonishing service they have in Sweden, argh)

Re:This is just a reminder. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390120)

I know your post was intended to pre-empt the stupid comments that will quite possibly come up, but still, I get the impression that the study was intended to look at overall quality of service. At the end of the day customers care much more about the service they receive than the relative ease or difficulty of bringing that service to them. The argument is a fair one to make when talking about why the US and Canada are (or aren't) lacking in broadband tech, but it's irrelevant if the question is simply "Are they lacking or not?".

I have to say, 70% penetration sounds pretty dire, whether or not that cost the industry 5x more than getting 95%+ in the UK. Comparing advertised speeds rather than actual speeds, on the other hand, does sound like a severe weakness of the study and certainly deserves to be looked into.

Re:This is just a reminder. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390198)

Lumping Canada and the US together doesn't work. Canada is WAY ahead of the US in terms of broadband penetration, always has been, and will likely continue to maintain the lead over the next decade.

Re:This is just a reminder. (4, Funny)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390222)

Also, when you have free time in California you can enjoy the sun, hit the beach, surf the ocean, or whatever else it is that young, happy people do outside. But what are you going to do when you're stuck inside during the long, cold Scandinavian winter? Before the Internet, Scandinavian kids used to get so bored, and thus angry, that they would do crazy stuff like this [] . Now fast Internet access makes life bearable in the inhospitable north. Of course everyone wants it.

Re:This is just a reminder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390344)

But what are you going to do when you're stuck inside during the long, cold Scandinavian winter?

Have fun in the snow.

Now fast Internet access makes life bearable in the inhospitable north.

Now you're just jealous. Scandinavia is in fact more bearable than Cahlifohnia.

Re:This is just a reminder. (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390354)

Stuck inside? If something the winters were awesome as a kid. Snowboarding, playing in the snow, cute girls with red cheeks and all the crazy stuff we used to do (and as a little vigilante throw snowballs at cars and run hiding :). Of course, when you got inside you could enjoy a game of Civilization. I would take all of that anytime over surfing or making sand castles on the beach as a kid, as these things I can do now as an adult.

And I still like winters, but just for other reasons - they're romantic time and nothing better than putting woolen socks on with a girl and enjoy the warmness together. Though excluding this year it's been way too warm for that, damn global warming.

Re:This is just a reminder. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390686)

But what are you going to do when you're stuck inside during the long, cold Scandinavian winter?

Two words.

unisex sauna.

Re:This is just a reminder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390262)

Not sure what you want to point out with those numbers. What do illegal immigrants have to do with it? Yes, Sweden is only slightly larger than California - and has a fourth of the population. Does this make it easier or more difficult to reach higher broadband service levels in Sweden than in California? The usual argument is that the US is so sparsely populated. Sweden of course has only about 2/3 of the population density of the US. But in the end, not only the general population density has to be factored in, but also how much the population is concentrated in certain areas... These kind of comparisons are really difficult to make. But surely just the area or the number of illegal immigrants are not really relevant...

Just want to point that out before we start saying that one or the other is morally superior.

I thought he was talking about service quality, not moral?

Re:Right (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390060)

No you are not getting 1Gb/s to home in Stockholm. Advertised rate is not the same as real rate.

In Korea they advertise 100Gb/s to home. I lived there - you don't get 100Gb/s. Its more comparable to typical USA cable speeds. It is just an advertising gimmick.

Re:Right (4, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390188)

I can personally say that you do. Of course I won't be getting that 1Gb/s from most http sites especially if they're in the US, just because they either don't have the bandwidth, are limiting per user or that you just can't deliver that fast from other countries - but the bandwidth is still available and will work 99% of the time to its full extend, provided you have the hardware capability. Now you don't really need that fast yet, but that's an another matter and will change over time.

Also, we have quite strict laws regarding advertising. What you describe wouldn't cut it.

Re:Right (1)

Kevster (102318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390442)

Is that 1 Gb/s symmetric? Can you get close to that when transferring large amounts of data to someone next door or on the same block? That would be worth paying for. Here in Canada, I get 15 MB/s down, 1 MB/s up for C$45/mo. To get around the asymmetry, my neighbour (with whom I have line-of-sight) and I are setting up a 802.11g wireless link. Sad, but at least it's been fun. :)

Re:Right (2, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390570)

Yes it's symmetric, and we've tested it across the city and it's pretty much what you would get on LAN. While you obviously don't get full of it from elsewhere (100 Mb/s is common in other cities, maybe slower in towns), you basically never run out of your own bandwidth. No caps, either.

Re:Right (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390760)


Having a large faucet doesn't help if the water company can't spit out enough water.

Try testing it against a neighbor that has the same service and you'll get a good test of the actual hardware capacity.

Testing further away exercises the network, but eventually your water's going to flow through someone else's tubes.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Re:Right (4, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390088)

Yeah, where I live (Östersund, northern part of Sweden, population ~40k) the choices are FTTH through the citynet which has five different ISPs offering everything from 1/1 Mbps to 100/100 Mbps with the most expensive 100/100 service costing SEK 459 ($65) per month, ADSL through a multitude of ISPs offering their services through DSLAMs and networks owned by TDC, Telia or Telenor and finally cable (DOCSIS) through ComHem who offer speeds from 5 Mbps to 25 Mbps (although Comhem are being booted out by the landlord since the citynet is a much better solution and not tied to any one ISP like Comhem's network).

Also, as you said, downtime even with DSL is generally quite low (at least if you live in an apartment building, if you live in some shack in the woods and the copper runs as overhead cables then you'll probably have some issues but that's like expecting to be able to drive your new Ferrari at 200 km/h on a dirt road that hasn't been maintained since the 1920s...). Total downtime due to DSL outages for me has definitely been less than two or three hours in the last year.

As for caps, they seem very common in the US and I don't know of a single ISP where I live that has any caps except for when it comes to 3/3.5/4G connections.


Re:Right (2, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390546)

"Choices". There, you just ended the entire argument.

My "choice" is whether or not I buy DSL. If I lived in a truly open and competitive market my "choice" would be whether to buy DSL or Cable. In the absolute best case scenario I have two companies to choose from.

Re:Right (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390790)

Where I live (Newark, NJ), my choices are:

  • $60/month cable Internet access ($50/month if bundled with a cable package)
  • ~$20/month Verizon DSL Internet (not that great)
  • Dialup
  • FIOS isn't here yet
  • Run a private line to my house through a business-class provided like Speakeasy

I would love to have the choices you have over the choices I have. $65/month is your most expensive package? $60/month is the only package here worth buying.

Re:Right (1)

sxedog (824351) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390140)

Agreed. I live in Canada. In my part of the country, we have one Cable provider, one DSL porvider. Both cost the same for the same service.

The difference is that the cable provider will disconnect you if you go over your "unlimited" cap(this used to be advertised as unlimited back in the day but now means less than 60GB down, 20 up)

So far the DSL doesn't seem to care, but they are a government "corporation" that is far behind the tech curve.

So my choice is fast but cut off or "slower" (that is relative) but unlimited.

NA internet is a big fucking collusion - fixed prices and no competition. I wish I lived in Sweden or some place similar when it comes to internet.

You exaggerate but we win... Except in prices. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390366)


[ ] Can I get 1 Gb/s to home in Canada? (I can in my home town Stockholm)

I think that's too harsh. We damage our point by exaggerating in our examples... While you might be able to get that in Stockholm, you won't get that just about anywhere in Europe or even Sweden. But even when using more common figures... We are well ahead. We don't have monthly caps, have little to no throttling (I've never noticed any), etc... which seem to be more common elsewhere.

I live in Finland and am surfing through 100 Mbit/second line. It should be 100/10 but I usually get about 95 megs/second down and about 65 megs/second up assuming it isn't peak traffic hours (when it's closer to 100/10). Thus, from my somewhat anecdotal evidence I have extremely hard time believing that USA has more reliable connections. Also, while that gigabit connection is still rare, 100mbps connection begins to be pretty common at least here in Finland and operators constantly dig fiber and the area is expanding rapidly. Not in all areas but capital area and around notable cities at least. 24mbit/s has been pretty common in many areas for several years.

In my old apartment (suburbs of East-Vantaa) I could have gotten 100/10 connection but I didn't see the point so I just used the 10/2. I recently moved to HOAS student apartment with a roommate and we decided "Meh. We both study computer science, getting 100/10 would cost just 20 euros a month divided between the two of us... Why would we not get it?"

Now... I think that USA might still win us when it comes to price. In my previous apartment, 100/10 would have cost 55 euros (=75 dollars) a month. That might not be easily comparable if those bandwith's are less common in usa but even the 10/2 cost 45 euros (=61 dollars) a month. I think that you would get one cheaper than that in USA? Then again, prices between USA and Europe are never directly comparable. We have higher prices, usually higher wages (Our lowest wages are higher than at USA but our high end wages are less than there), higher taxes, need to spend less money to education/healthcare/etc. but need to pay more for gas... So it is very hard to just compare costs in the two without going in to deep analysis about respective quality of life... I guess that you should just look at "How large precentage of population has product X" instead but even then we would have cultural differences affecting that.

Re:You exaggerate but we win... Except in prices. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390462)

Good luck finding a decent ISP that gives that quality of service, for that price without annoying caps.

Re:You exaggerate but we win... Except in prices. (1)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390602)

The 10/2 is still cheaper and faster in your country.

Re:Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390576)

I live in Sweden too (Stockholm) and it is true that you can get 1 Gb/s fairly cheap. It doesn't however hold for all of Europe. I've lived and worked in a bunch of European countries and the situation differs from country to country.

The Nordic countries have the best internet infrastructure - it's fast and cheap.

Eastern Europe is typically on par with the US speed/price - i.e. not brilliant. There are some exceptions like Estonia, but for the most part it's nowhere near what you get in the Nordic region.

Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain..) have a horrible infrastructure and level of service. They are definitely below US standards.

So why is it so cheap and fast in Sweden? Well, there are a bunch of factors. First Sweden is a nation of technophiles which meant that there has always been a lot of interest in good connectivity. The second important thing is that when the internet boom started in the late 90's, the broadband market was completely deregulated. This resulted in a situation where Sweden had an order of magnitude more ISPs/capita than other countries. There was extreme competition - speed, quality of service and prices improved constantly for nearly a decade. The market has stabilized since and we don't have such huge numbers of ISPs any more - and predictably, although the quality is very high, the development has slowed down. Still, in Stockholm I have a choice of 20+ ISPs that will provide 100/100 Mbit connections.

I pay about $10/month for a 100/100 connection. The regular price is about $40, but we got a huge discount because all apartments in the building agreed to use the same ISP. (This should say something about the profit margins of the ISPs).

Re:Right (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390698)

This also makes you wonder what the state by state breakdown in the US.

Although I have seen "statistics" for that of which I am highly skeptical. You gotta wonder, how cooked and skewed the numbers are.

Re:Right (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390758)

Hell there are good chunks of the country where you can't get diddly squat here in the USA! Where I live (Northern AR) the cableco and DSL haven't run so much as a single foot since the mid 90s. Not a single foot. My mom was 2 blocks away from cable when she built her house in 1982, guess how far away she is from the cable now? 2 blocks! Last time I lived there a few years back there were even parts of downtown Nashville where you couldn't get broadband!

The problem we have here in the USA is our "let the market handle it" has turned into a giant fail thanks to duopolies and cherry picking. The cable and DSL companies have taken all the choice neighborhoods and as far as they are concerned the rest can go fuck themselves. If anything I would say our service is getting worse since the duopolies are simply adding caps instead of running extra pipes in many places, as in my own case where I'm paying $150 a month for a whole 36Gb with $1.50 per Gb if I go over.

The only way things will get any better here in the USA is if we seize the last mile and open it up to true competition. There is even precedent for doing so, as We, The People paid the telecoms 200 billion [] for nationwide 15Mbps broadband, only to have them stuff it in their pockets and give us the finger. For those that wish to look up the relevant bill for themselves, it was the 1996 telecommunications act. If we leave it "to the market" thanks to the duopolies and cherry picking we will NEVER get nationwide broadband, and as more bandwidth intensive apps come to the cloud we will be left behind thanks to bandwidth caps.

Considering how important the Internet has become, and how it can change so many people's lives with everything from online classes to e-commerce, we simply can't afford to be left behind thanks to the short sighted "fuck everything but the quarterly earnings report" attitude of many of our telecoms today.

Re:Right (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390780)

This is because the majority of customers haven't demanded better quality of service here in the US.

Your typical (non-Slashdot) internet user basically browses the web and checks email. From a dial-up to broadband experience was a big, demonstrable difference; but going from 500 kb/s to something like 500 Mb/s, non-tech-savvy users really won't care. It'll take a few companies concluding that the cost model will benefit them to upgrade to that type of service and the customers buying into it before we'll see those speeds here in the US.

You could say we can get larger cars cheaper here in the US vs EU for a similar reason.

Raw speed is realtive (3, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389572)

Especially if you are penalized by your ISP if you use it..

Speed (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389582)

Uhm, the speed used is not the speed advertised. Why, because it varies wildly and would be stupid to use. They use averages of speedtests. Which is the best indicator you'll ever get of speed. That kind of makes their point moot.

Re:Speed (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389670)

right. and the average of my speed tests is less than 5% of the advertised 8mb connection I am supposed to be getting.

The summary is dumb. Mr "anonymous reader" is basically saying that North America's internet is better because it is saturated by having higher use with a lower cap.

I'll read the article, but only after posting in accordance with slashdot tradition.

Speed capping???? ???? (1)

terraStorm24 (1752736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389638)

Well now I'm pretty sure the internet speed is going to be capped (and or its progress slowed down) somewhere by some "oh so nice people" from a bunch of fantastic organizations.........RIAA???? "Increased internet speeds will only lead to more piracy, going back to dial up will fix this" I can't stand 3mbs I want 100mbs at my house, its a shame fios isn't in town

Don't RTFA (3, Insightful)

M_Hulot (859406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389666)

The original report is really badly written. For example, this is a section heading:

"A multidimensional approach to benchmarking helps us separate whose experience is exemplary, and whose is cautionary, along several dimensions of broadband availability and quality"

Why do people write like this?

Re:Don't RTFA (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389966)

If the average reader sees a bunch of scientific sounding words there will be the assumption that the report's author knows what hes taking about.

Re:Don't RTFA (5, Insightful)

saihung (19097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390226)

It's Harvard. If they write in normal English people might discover that the study is stupid. See also: every sociology department in the world.

Re:Don't RTFA (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390326)

Why do people write like this?

"Words that write themselves for you."

I would suggest you start with George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" and graduate to Victor Klemperer's "The Language of the Third Reich" [] .

Re:Don't RTFA (2, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390628)

These aren't words that write themselves for you - this is a cleverly disguised level seven wizard spell, Runes of Inducing Headache. I honestly tried to RTFA - it is one of the most deliberately complex things I've ever waded into.

However, the retort from Globe and Mail that tries to refute the study basically needs one big [citation needed] tag written under the whole thing.

Of Caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31389708)

Probably the worst thing around here [US] is the upload capping. I've had a dozen or so broadband providers and they all seem to cut it down to almost intolerable levels.

Re:Of Caps (1)

allseason radial (1603753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390066)

No pro here, just a residential user. But I so agree with your point. My DSL provider, CenturyLink (formerly CenturyTel) often allows my 10 mbps download to exceed 12 mbps, which is admittedly gratifying (but still insufficient for my needs). But the upload speed rarely even reaches its advertised max .750 mbps (yes, that's 750k), much less exceeds it. I run no servers, but I still find myself wishing for better upstream bandwidth.

Re:Of Caps (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390254)

Well, if you're getting 12 Mbps downstream then they're most definitely capping the upload because the most common ADSL versions in use are g.dmt/G.992.1 (8/0.8 capacity) and ADSL2+/G.992.5 (24/1 capacity). It could however be that your outbound transfers are using TCP and with Ethernet over ATM you end up with a total overhead somewhere around 15% which means the upstream speed you'd end up seeing would be somewhere around 640 kbps. Also, ISPs generally use base 10 for the prefixes (1 kB = 1000 B) so if your software uses base 2 it'll be off by a little there as well.


Ever-more proof that Europe is a Potemkin Village! (0, Troll)

AlexLibman (785653) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389734)

Yet another bullshit statistic Euro-socialists like to throw in our faces bites the dust! ( Click here for some others [] ...) USA isn't perfect, but it's still one of the freest economies in the world.

Socialism / liberal democracy in Europe is a failure, as it is all over the world. Any European countries that are doing OK are wealthy not because of socialism, but in spite of it, and at the cost of a massive demographic collapse. You can't reject the immutable laws of economics, which all point to free market capitalism as the ideal, any more than you can reject the laws of physics!

Re:Ever-more proof that Europe is a Potemkin Villa (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390286)

USA isn't perfect, but it's still one of the freest economies in the world.

The US is the least "free" economy in the world. Highest agricultural subsidies. Spends the most of ANY country in the world on bailing out private corporations. Gave Warren Buffets (largest stockholder in AIG and Moodys) enough of that "gubbimint cheese" to make Buffet the single largest welfare recipient in the known universe ...

And you're "free" to pay for all this over the rest of your, and your kids, and your grandkids, lives.

Re:Ever-more proof that Europe is a Potemkin Villa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390664)

Spends the most of ANY country in the world on bailing out private corporations. Gave Warren Buffets (largest stockholder in AIG and Moodys) enough of that "gubbimint cheese" to make Buffet the single largest welfare recipient in the known universe ...

And you're "free" to pay for all this over the rest of your, and your kids, and your grandkids, lives.

Is that in total or per capita? Because I'm pretty sure the per capita numbers are miniscule compared to some economies. No, we're blowing all our money on health care (16% of GDP!), apparently.

Re:Ever-more proof that Europe is a Potemkin Villa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390706)

I believe that is spelled "Pokemon Village"

No matter where you are, 'remote' = poor service (2, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389760)

I wonder how much difference there really is between the various counties?
I've been in places in the Americas, Europe & Asia where 'remote' could be as little as an hour's drive away from a big city.
Guess what? No broadband, & crappy cell coverage, (forget high bandwidth via cell).
Why? Normally simple economics. Look at the cell maps; they all claim to cover '9x%' of the population, conveniently forgetting that that's != to '9x' of the inhabitated surface.
Anyway, how much bandwidth do you really need? Is it really a handicap if you cannot run a call/data centre from some remote mountain or desert retreat?

Re:No matter where you are, 'remote' = poor servic (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390270)

Hell, sometimes "remote" can be one block away.

But that's always been the problem:

In the 1930s, all the power companies were happy to connect into downtown Nashville, but rural TN? No payback, no investors, no way.

In the 1950s, the Bell System was permitted to be a monopoly only if they agreed to build out to 100% of the country. There's places in rural Colorado that have no electricity, single track road, cell phones are offline, but you can get wireline telephone service. That copper hasn't made AT&T a dime, except that they could charge it off over decades (and the monopoly status has value of course).

Network build out is expensive. It's estimated that it costs Verizon between $3000-$5000 to install a FIOS customer. I'm sure that drops the more people on the street take the service, but if there's only 3 houses/mile, that cost can easily go through the roof. Cable construction is quite a bit lower, figure about $1/ft for aerial and $2-3/ft for underground if it isn't new construction/open trench.

I'm not exactly in favor of a TVA or Bell System solution, but it does get results. A compromise might be to let all comers have an accelerated depreciation schedule for rural build out, or maybe have the treasury back a 30 year bond issued by the provider. If a TVA style solution is proposed (and it usually is), there should be a clear exit strategy for the government to get out of the business after the capital is repaid, perhaps converting the business into a co-op or some such entity.

Time (0)

Tteddo (543485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389804)

Has anyone else noticed that this was posted in the future?

It is my fault, I am pulling the average down. (1)

ScubaForLife (1327155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389870)

I live less than 20 miles from the center of a major metropolitan area and cannot get broadband, none, no option.

Re:It is my fault, I am pulling the average down. (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390260)

In the town of Whyteleafe (Still within the M25 and quite close to Croydon/London) you will be lucky to get a 512/128k DSL connection.

If it was easier to set up a community-run WiMax scheme or some other long range wireless service getting access in remote areas wouldn't be such a problem. but of course the likes of Vodafone want to suppress long-range 'run your own AP' wireless services for as long as they can, which is why you can't run them on unlicensed spectrum.

Does anyone really care anymore? (2, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389886)

The numbers for broadband penetration with active internet users in north america are 95+%, and for businesses are over 98%. That basically means everyone who actually uses the internet is on broadband.

At that point is there really much to discuss? Everyone who actually uses the internet in any significant fashion is on broadband.

Re:Does anyone really care anymore? (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390048)

No because that misses the point. Of those that are literate 95% has read books therefore book penetration is high enough. The point is that if only a certain percentage gets regular access to the internet and the others has to do without, then we are creating a society divided by those who has internet and those who has not. That lead to problems down the line.

Re:Does anyone really care anymore? (2)

arcade (16638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390218)

Define broadband.

I would claim that anthing providing less than 10Mbit download and 2Mbit upload is bloody slow, these days.

Re:Does anyone really care anymore? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390730)

IDK, but where I live, in Central NJ I have a choice between several services starting with DSL up through 3 bonded DOCSIS3 channels that gives me 100/15 Mbps service.

The one I actually pay for is 30 / 5, mostly because I haven't found a reason for something faster.

And yes I actually get 30/5.

Re:Does anyone really care anymore? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390778)

I would argue that most people won't know what to do with all of that (10m/2m). What they need is a certain RELIABLE level somewhere considerably beneath that. They need less overhyped speed and more reliability.

Athough "web based television" could certainly drive more demand.

BS (4, Interesting)

Tiro (19535) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389916)

Advertised broadband speeds vary from actual speeds. In North America, this is largely a result of "network overhead," and is quite modest. In Europe, however, the variation is often dramatic.

I live in San Francisco, where Comcast advertises 8Mbps. We actually get 1Mbps down. If you want the full 6Mbps, you have to live some place like San Mateo County, where they don't have insane oversubscription.

The Comcast drone I chatted with online asked me: "Would you like to avail the Comcast?" I don't even know what the F that means.

Well... (4, Insightful)

Raven737 (1084619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31389934)

My Parents live in the US (Missouri), i live in Germany.
They pay more then i do, they only have one choice for broadband (SBC Global which is now AT&T) and their download speed is slower then my upload speed. And i don't mean 'stated', i mean actual.
They have 768kbit/s down stated and they do get that but they pay around $45/month. In Germany i pay 29.90 euro for 32Mbit/s stated of which i actually get 3.9MByte/s sustained so 31.2Mbit/s actual and 2Mbit/s upstream stated of which i get like 220kbyte/s so 1.8Mbit/s).

My brother lives in mountain view (near google) and used to live in menlo park. On both occasions he had only two choices (dsl and cable form one provider each).
Each was horribly slow and very expensive. And this is in the F*ING HEART OF SILICON VALLY!!!. At least now in mountain view he gets free google wifi (which he uses exclusively, thank you google!).

In Germany i have 8 different DSL providers, all tying to outbid each other (this is in a small rural town with maybe like 5000 inhabitants). Unfortunately with DSL the max they can provide is 16Mbit/s over twisted pair, that's why i went with cable, which for the speed is just as cheap and way cheaper then anything i ever saw in the US. Sure i heard of things like 'Fiber to the premises' but in the areas my parents, my brothers and i lived it was never even considered, and in the last 10 years the price of 'broadband' was actually raised 2x. Each time my parents would cancel or threaten to cancel to get the 'new user' prices again which would be what they payed before. But it's not really much of a choice, if they want broad band they have to pay what AT&T asks.

This article is either total BS or somehow every place i know in the US has been miraculously spared of any type of competition leaving horrible service, horrible speeds for extravagant prices.
Does anybody in the US have something like 32Mbit/s (uncapped) $40/moth? If so, where do you live and what is your ISP?

Re:Well... (4, Informative)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390058)

I have 40Mbit/s with no caps for $60USD/month. I live in a small town about an hour north of tampa, in florida. My ISP is Brighthouse networks/roadrunner.

Re:Well... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390278)

I live in Romania, Buzau, a small town, I get to choose from 5 ISP DSL, and 4 wireless broadband, I got the cheapest subscription, for 9 USD 6 mb externally and 100 mb anywhere in the country, public IP, no throttling, or download cap, or any other kind of limitations.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390074)

Verizon FIOS

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390456)

SLC, UT comcast.

Re:Well... (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390466)

Which cable provider are you on in Germany? I'm looking to get away from 1&1, and 30€ a month for a realistic 1.8Mbit/s of upload speed sounds pretty good to me :)

Do they offer VoIP?

Re:Well... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390600)

I see yours and I raise you my anecdote. I am actually in Germany, Baden Baden right now, lived here for a few months, came from Toronto. We live on sort of a mountain here though, and it's a nice place and all, but I cannot get anything except one single DSL provider, don't want to mention their name, but they are THE telecom in this country. Can't get cable, satellite would still only allow me the downstream. I got mobile actually, but again, where we are it doesn't work well, it works better downtown.

I don't know, maybe it's Baden, but it feels like I am back in 1995 on a dialup. Download is better than upload, it could reach 120KB, but upload is crazy, takes almost 5 minutes to upload a meg.

Now back in Toronto I was on cable, that was so much better, however they have their own problems, try doing any P2P and they throttle your ass down and there are monthly limits that hit unexpectedly.

Sooo... let's see (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31389952)

I used to live in the US from 1996 to 2008, and I lived in the freaking center of a major city. In 1998 or so they started offering DSL, 768k SDSL, for like $80 per month. That was concentric, which ended up becoming XO and canceling all their consumer accounts. I switched to the excellent Speakeasy, but it was still more money for less speed at the time. Later, the truly craptasic Verizon DSL showed up, which many people signed up for, since the advertising was heavy. One of my friends have had that go on and off once a week or more until he finally got fed up and cancelled it. Another one of my friends signed up for their DSL in order to set up a test web site for class, but then found out after the fact that they block port 80. By the time I left, I had 3 or 6Mbit DSL for around $60 a month, but at least it actually gave that speed and had a static IP. On the other hand, cable internet also arrived, and gives speeds "up to 12mbps" last I checked, but seems to vary drastically according to my friends who use it. I had AT&T 3G before I left, which with my company discount was $80 a month for 3Mbit, which even in the best coverage areas was usually 2Mbit max. The upload speed was truly pathetic. Around the time I left, Verizon started to offer their FIOS service, which isn't even available in the city I was in, but in the suburbs. It could offer speeds "up to 30Mbps", but that would have cost more than whatever default speed they gave.

Now... The DSL here, is like $5 a month for 14-16mbps. 100Mbps or 160Mbps fiber is about $40 a month. 1Gbps is available now for not much more. 21Mbit 3G (with 4.8Mbps upstream) that actually delivers that speed most of the time is about $50 a month. 40Mbps WiMax is also available for cheap, but the reception is not good. In every case the bandwidth is better, they don't play games with port blocking/rate limiting and shit, and the price is cheaper. In fact, I use my 3G router to download at least dozens of GB per month.

Also, nearly everything mentioned above is available almost anywhere in Japan. I don't want to hear the excuse "oh that's because Japan is a small island." We have as much empty space as the US to be sure. As for people not being heavy users, there is a reason why the higher speeds are available. I don't know the situation in Europe first-hand, but at least in Korea it's similar to here.

Re:Sooo... let's see (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390108)

I don't want to hear the excuse "oh that's because Japan is a small island." We have as much empty space as the US to be sure.

As much as? Japan is the same size as Montana (377,915 vs 380,847 sq km). And far, far more densely populated.

Re:Sooo... let's see (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390244)

Ha ha well I meant on a relative basis. My point is that we have places that make a US suburb look like the middle of the city. The place where I used to live was a village of 21 houses. Outside of that, rice fields, streams, and mountains. The closest "town" was 40 minutes drive. We still had decent DSL cell phone service though, and that was in before 1996. The average population density in Japan is higher than the US, but the less populated areas are *really* mostly empty, and account for the majority of the land in the country. What I mean to say is the excuse "Japan is one big city, so it is easy", is false. If these services were only available in Tokyo or Osaka I would buy it, but they are available in the middle of nowhere to some extent. (Whereas my cell phone didn't work in Maine...)

What a load of... chessnuts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31389990)

I fail to see how internet speed relates to internet usage, after all there's still quite a few americans intensively surfing on analog modems. Must sure take a long time to load slashdot with that.

Let's follow the money... (5, Interesting)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390104)

Usually when a study comes to such dramatically different conclusions from a fairly respectable institution my alarm bells start ringing. It usually smells like media manipulation. So, let's see. The Globe and Mail is owned by CTVGlobemedia which in turn is owned by among others Bell Canada. Bell Canada (as well as the other former Bells) were excoriated by the Harvard report for being anti-competitive and providing poor value. Hrm... Nothing definitive but fairly fishy.

Re:Let's follow the money... (1)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390784)

Bell and Rogers (and the other giants for the rest of the country) provide the worst service for the highest price they can. They continue to increase prices, cap their service and throttle and the government does nothing to stop them.

These companies own the media.

One word: Politics. (0)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390138)

In fact, Europe as a whole trails the United States severely in the deployment of next-generation broadband infrastructures. This performance gap is far less ambiguous, far more dramatic, far more accurately measured and far more meaningful than most of the measures of ...

So infrastructure is where this article places meaning, but meaning is for the putter to place. I don't care about infrastructure. I care about the exact speeds I can get, and what options I have. I live in LA and they both suck.

International comparisons almost always suffer from limited data and limited comparability, particularly comparisons of prices and speeds.

Bullshit. All this information is publicly available and advertised. Advertised speeds may be off, but this can be derived by looking into the infrastructure behind any service. I don't see anything limited about this information.

Regulation curtails economic freedom, which is why a very high standard of evidence is required to justify regulation.

Oh, how we would all love for this to be the case. Regulation is proportional to lobbying efforts, and the biases of those elected into public service. When has science ever played any role in politics?

If regulation was based on evidence, we would all be driving electric cars and weed would be legal.

... In North America, this is largely a result of "network overhead," and is quite modest. In Europe, however, the variation is often dramatic.

Bullshit. Any decrease in anything can be attributed to "overhead"!! And "quite modest" based on what?

Buying internet access is like buying a gallon of milk, and finding it to be half empty, or worse. No, its not half full, its half empty, and I want my gallon dammit!!!

This article does not match my experience (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390146)

Nor, I suspect, that of many other slashdotters.

I expect this to be rapidly crowdsourced into the dust.

It may suck now... (1, Interesting)

masdog (794316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390194)

The state of broadband in North America may suck now, but it doesn't have to stay that way.

The Obama stimulus bill provided billions of dollars for broadband development in rural areas. I don't know if any of that money is still available. If it is, then we (collectively) should start forming Co-ops like the East Vermont Fiber Project that was featured on Slashdot a while back and start building out our own infrastructure.

Re:It may suck now... (1)

smd75 (1551583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390290)

You do know the us government has been paying telcos to get the infrastructure in the ground for years. Into the trillions. Fibre to the home also. Obama's billions isnt going to change much. So yes, it does suck, and unless the telcos get off their asses and do the right thing and not the easy thing, it will continue to suck.

Re:It may suck now... (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390364)

Why does it just have to fall to the telco's to get it done, though? Others have started their own ISPs, and using public or private funding, built out infrastructure.

Re:It may suck now... (3, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390322)

Right, because of all the things ailing this country we need to tackle internet speeds. Nice waste of my tax dollars.

Message seems to be "Hey, we aren't last" (4, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390204)

Even the article itself says that compared to Europe, we trail only an "elite group" of (mostly northern) countries.

The problem with that, (if you're old enough to remember the sixties when the destruction of WW2 was recent enough to have much of Europe still like developing nations today where you couldn't trust the water), is that WE used to be the "elite". That even some European countries have pulled way ahead when they used to be far behind is all the proof you want that we haven't done nearly as well as we could have. (And as for Japan and South Korea pulling way ahead of us: both countries REALLY were developing nations when I was a kid. People in shacks. Widespread hunger.)

Secondly, it's not how well we're doing leveraging an old 1930's copper wire infrastructure that was paid off by 1960 by telephones, or what we're doing with a 1970's coax infrastructure paid off by 1990 by cable TV bills; it's how well we're doing at putting in a whole new infrastructure for the Internet itself - one that will wipe the other two away.

That is, where are we with fiber-to-the-home? Ten years ago, it was reasonable to address voracious demand for the new service by piggybacking it on old infrastructures never designed for it, but were sitting there, already deployed. That should have been matched by an aggressive build-out of the replacement infrastructure designed for the job. It should be nearly done by now.

Alas, being able to send out TWO bills for the same infrastructure after dropping a few humming boxes on either end of the old wires, was far too lucrative to give up in favour of spending about 3 years of bills per house to run new lines, and government dropped the ball on regulating them to do that.

Whether just a few, or several, European countries are were just as sloppy, their regulators just as captured, as ours, does not mitigate the mistake; it just gives us some more company. Big deal.

Typo (1)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390208)

"Canada has a true broadband penetration rate of close to 70 per cent of households...." Is that US or Canadian dollars?

Flawed comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390224)

In France I had 3+ Mbit/s unlimited internet + unlimited nationwide calling for free, for 30E in 2006.
Right now, basically, in Washington DC, my ISP just upped my 1Mbit/s service price from $20/month to $35/month, at the end of the initial 1 year subscription period.
And I can't seem to find cheaper...
Yes, I can have 40Mbit/s or faster for $45+ dollars / month or TriplePlay or similar crap, but:
- I use net for Skype, e-mail, watching some online videos on new sites. I don't need 50Mbit/s for that
- I don't need 200+ HD channels, I'm fine with on-the air TVs
- I use my cell phone for calling, no home phone please

Fiber optic internet penetration may be higher than in Europe but you can get it only coupled to tons of crap that personally I don't need.

I'd like to know who paid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390350)

...for this article, as:
"Canada has a true broadband penetration rate of close to 70 per cent of households." is NOT EVEN CLOSE to my experience with people in southern Ontario.

Nice how the article also quickly segues into businesses, which if they're of any size have, IME, had "broadband" for almost 2 decades and many even longer than that dependent upon what type of business they were in and number of locations, etc. Hell, it was pretty much a necessity for businesses by the mid-90s. Conversely there was NO residential broadband at all in my area until the last two years of the 90s, and then it was by a single regional monopoly carrier(cable) that has done nothing but raise rates while adding nearly zero value of the last decade. Unfortunately once DSL started becoming widespread in the early 00s, it still offered me no alternative given the distance to the local CO, i.e. I'd be just about as well off with ISDN as DSL at that time. Now matter have changed by DSL speeds are still lower than cable, leaving the only other option to wait around for Verizon to show up with fiber.

That said even with the availablity of some type of broadband in this residential area, I seriously doubt that it hit even 50% penetration until 5y or so ago, and has, likely, continued a very tepid growth rate given what I can sniff out of the local network setup and other clues.

And going back to Ontario one of the areas I frequent, there are very LARGE areas which had ZERO alternative to dialup until a few years ago when an entrepreneurial spirit(teeny tiny local ISP) started offering wireless broadband in some of those areas, however the monthly costs, as expected, are HIGH, even for Canada.

contrary to the article.. (1)

EspressoFreak (237002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390416)

i thought asian countries such as japan and korea are the real pacesetters for broadband internet penetration/connectivity?

Numbers, numbers.... (1)

sandertje (1748324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390476)

The article sites some numbers, but... what do they actually say? Nothing. You can state a whole list of numbers, but the actual user experience is what counts. Here in EU, I haven't had a single minute of internet downtime for the last 2 full years. Not a single minute. However, my American friends complain quite often about internet downtime, while they pay absurdly large prices. For comparison: I pay €39,99/month for 20MBps (practically it's around 13 MBps) internet, telephone and digital TV (state-funded channels in full HD) in one single package. I wonder if you can get something like that in the US (€40 is about 50 USD). And yet another thing: we have wifi almost everywhere, even in trains (for free!). It's just a matter of time before they'll put wifi in subways and buses. Are these services available in the US? I wonder.

Re:Numbers, numbers.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390596)

I can't speak for other cities, but the NYC Subway still hasn't figured out how to get freaking cell phone coverage in the subway (hell digital arrival signs are just arriving now on a few lines), I doubt they're going to rig wifi anytime soon.

Weasel words are bullshit (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390624)

Instead, we see comparisons of advertised speeds and "price per advertised megabit," which are especially misleading. Advertised broadband speeds vary from actual speeds. In North America, this is largely a result of "network overhead," and is quite modest. In Europe, however, the variation is often dramatic.

What a weasily way to make it sound like internet connections in the US are not so bad. The reason why advertised speeds aren't so different from actual speeds in the US, is because the offer is extremely low. If you have an advertised 3 Mbit connection in the US and in reality you get 2 Mbit, that's only a 1 Mbit difference. But if you have a line for the same monthly fee in Europe, advertised as 20 Mbit and you actually get 12 Mbit, there's suddenly a whopping 8 Mbit difference. So according to these folks, the 20 Mbit line is a lot worse than the 3 Mbit line.

Lies, damn lies and statistics, right.

France, average of 3.2 Mbps ? LOL ... must be MB! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390744)

If akamai is not coping with French geeks starving for bandwidth and only deliverying an average of 3.2Mbps, it does not means that the internet access is 3.2Mbps here in France.

FYI, I got an average of 80Mb/s, 40Mb/s and less than 2ms to most french sites (Mo => MB for those who likes 10MB/s).

ping to french hosted ping to is about 12ms, .uk is about 20ms and slashdot is about 130ms.
But ping to is about 50ms and the same for (a akamai customer) 40ms.

The only conclusion for me is : akamai is slow ;-)

By the way, I pay less than 30€ per month (unlimited bandwith, unlimited call to most countries, free wifi to millions of AP, more than 150 of TV chan, IPv6, tivo like boxe provided, etc).

If Bell want canadian citizens to think Canada is the best country for broadband, it is up to them. European, Korean & Japanese knows where is the reality.


Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31390776)

OH GEE i can go one gigabit for one hour BOY THAT WAS FAST
people that up articles like this should be shot
pissed on and have there gene's removed form humanity

YOUR attempt at obfuscation has FAILED

got it EPIC FAIL
caps , throttles , user based billing
all make highspeed USELESS today

Punditry != Analysis (4, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31390786)

And now, I will tear apart the analysis that tears apart the Harvard analysis!

Economists with extensive practical experience of telecommunications regulation have already rebutted the Berkman Center report that harshly assessed Canadian broadband performance, but it is also worth pointing out how much room for interpretation there is in broadband comparisons.

Let me back up this point by just letting you know the research was refuted and not bother pointing out anyone who's refuted it.

Residential broadband subscriptions, however, are taken at the household level, not at the individual level. And big businesses often connect several hundred employees with one “line.” The United States and Canada have 2.6 individuals per household, compared with 2.2 in Germany and some other European countries. Thus, if North American household sizes fell to German levels, and all households subscribed to broadband, the United Statse and Canada would have an additional seven lines per 100 persons... Thus there could well be more employees “connected” in North America, although there might be fewer connections.

So, wait, you're saying that there's more internet penetration in North America because in NA there are more people able to check their e-mail from work?

And North Americans use the Internet somewhat more intensively than do Europeans, according to Cisco Systems data on Internet traffic. Further, business Internet traffic in North America appears to be at levels substantially higher than elsewhere in the world. Sadly, there is little systematic effort by international agencies to measure the intensity of Internet usage.

In fact, there's so little effort to measure internet usage that I can just spout this line and pretend it's true without anyone having to refute it!

Real-world speed testing efforts, while not perfect, tell a dramatically different story from comparisons of advertised speeds. Using real-world data on the amount of time taken to deliver files to end users from its global network of servers, Akamai Technologies reports that the average download speed for Canada was 4.2 megabits a second, against 3.2 Mbps for France, whereas the OECD finds that the average advertised speed from French ISPs was a staggering 51 Mbps.

Ah, but were they testing from home servers, or from work, which is where most people check their email in Canada?

Fifty-Mbps speeds (and their prices) are representative of user experience only where advanced fibre and cable networks are widely on offer. Although parts of France have developed impressively in this regard, such networks are accessible to at most 25 per cent of households, and the take-up of high-speed services is very low.

As opposed to the, what, 2% of North American households that get that kind of speed?

Canada is likely soon to have a proportion substantially higher than France's of homes served by advanced fibre and cable networks that can deliver such speeds, thanks in part to the ubiquity of cable networks that are less costly to upgrade.

Also, next year the Cubs will win the pennant. It's gonna be the year! They've been building such a strong team!

Robert Crandall from the Brookings Institution has shown that in recent years, the capital intensity of the wireline operations of the incumbent North American phone companies has significantly exceeded that of their European counterparts. In 2008, Telus's wireline capital expenditures were about 25 per cent of its corresponding revenue, nearly double the ratio for many European incumbents. Likewise, the Wireless Intelligence database shows that between 2004 and 2009, the capital intensity of wireless operators has been 50 per cent higher in North America than in Western Europe.

How do we know that North Americans get better internet? Because they spend more money on it! Or do they?

So it is that in Canada, Rogers, Shaw and Videotron all offer 50- or 100-Mbps services, while Novus (using its own fibre) offers 200 Mbps in Vancouver. Bell Aliant has rolled out an ambitious fibre deployment in parts of its territory. Bell Canada has offered fibre-to-the-node technology since 2005, and has recently stepped up its deployment efforts... Canada and the United States share the benefits of having robust cable and telephone networks across the country.

Kinda funny how he says "Canada and the United States" without mentioning a single high-speed provider from the U.S. By the way, that 200 Mbps service in Vancouver is going to cost you about $261 US a month, [] which I wouldn't quite put down as a good indicator of expanding service when no residential customer is going to be able to afford it.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently filed some comments on the American National Broadband Plan that deserve attention in Canada. These comments point out that the market for broadband services cannot ever resemble a textbook “perfectly competitive” market with multitudes of suppliers. They acknowledge that something approaching an oligopoly of a few suppliers is always of concern in this market, but they are acutely conscious of the limits of market engineering by way of ambitious regulatory solutions... It appears that U.S. authorities will take measured steps to deal with the genuine problems of low-income and rural residents, rather than performing radical surgery that would rip the heart out of a generally healthy broadband market.

Again, I don't think this guy actually knows what the "healthy broadband market" is like in the U.S., in which a handful of companies split the internet share, but due to not being forced to share their lines with competitors, have a de facto monopoly over entire areas - or at least have the competition down between your cable company and your phone company. But we all know that business is always hurt by those Nealdamned regulations!

This article could be best summed up by putting one large [citation needed] tag under the whole thing.
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