Internet speed in the United States varies according to a number of factors: where you live, who provides your service, and how much you’re willing to pay. And while it’s possible to get download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for just over $30 per month in the US, this is far from the best deal worldwide. What does $30 buy you in other broadband-enabled countries?


Moving Down the List

According to research data from Akamai, the United States doesn’t even make the global top 10 when it comes to peak Mbps transfer rates. Hong Kong leads the pack with 65.4 Mbps, followed by South Korea at 63.6, and Japan at 52. Rounding out the bottom of the pack are the Netherlands with 39.6 and Belgium at 38.5. America does crack the top 10 (spot number 9) in the number of people who have access to broadband faster than 10 Mbps. Thirty-four percent of users in the US have connections over the 10 Mbps mark, while 49 percent of those in Japan and 70 percent of those in South Korea enjoy similar speeds.

The United States is making headway when it comes to Internet speed thanks to the rollout of fiber-optic cable by big providers like Verizon and Google, but blazing fast speeds approaching those of Asian countries, while possible, are extremely expensive stateside. Although New York residents can get 50 Mbps peak download speeds for $35 through fiber lines from RCN, and those in San Francisco can get 100 Mbps for almost $40, many other countries continue to offer better services at lower prices.

Worldwide Pricing

Pricing information gathered by New America shows a significant gap in what’s offered and exactly how much it costs. At the head of the class is Seoul, South Korea, where users can get 1,000 Mbps download speeds for just over $35 USD through Internet service provider (ISP) HelloVision. In Tokyo, $30 USD gets you 100 Mbps on a fiber-optic connection, and in Bucharest you get 80 Mbps for roughly the same price. For less than $28 USD, users in Riga, Latvia, can access 100 Mbps downloads through cable ISP Balticom. It’s also worth noting that the price of broadband Internet is coming down in many parts of the world, compared to a gradual scaling up on North American soil. For example, in 2012 French consumers in Paris had access to 100 Mbps connections for $40 USD per month. By 2013, speeds of 100, 200, and even 300 Mbps were all offered for $30 USD.

Increased fiber-optic adoption in the US is helping to lower the price for some users and increase overall connection speeds — where its infrastructure exists, Google charges a set fee to wire up an entire apartment complex and then offers free basic Internet access, or provides much higher-speed alternatives for around $70 per month. For the moment, however, many ISPs in America aren’t shy about charging higher prices for lower speeds.

Photo credit: Flickr/401(K) 2013