Report: US Internet speed, prices lag behind other nations'

The United States lags behind other nations when it comes to Internet speeds and prices, according to a Thursday report. 

The Open Technology Institute's report evaluated prices and speeds of home broadband Internet from 24 cities around the world, including eight in the United States. 

The study, which tracks with past studies and other recent data, found similar gaps for mobile broadband service as well. 

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Asian cities — including Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo — all ranked highest in speed and cost. Each city has broadband connection speeds at 1 gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second at a price less than $40 per month. Another study earlier this year found that the United States had an average connection speed of 10.5 Mbps.

While cities such as Chattanooga, Tenn., Kansas City, Mo., and Lafayette, La., have comparable speeds, thanks to the use of fiber optic cables, the prices are significantly higher, ranging from $70 to $110. 

Only one U.S. city made the top 10 when ranking of fastest broadband packages offered at less than $40. San Francisco ranked seventh with a speed of 200 Mbps at a cost of $30. Comparatively, residents in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles or New York can purchase only a 10-15 Mbps speed for the same price.  

While customers in D.C. can buy 500 Mbps speeds, it costs about $300 a month. Comparable prices exist in Los Angeles and New York as well. 

"In addition, when it comes to the estimated speeds a customer could expect to get for $50 in each of the cities we surveyed, the U.S. is middling at best, with many cities falling to the bottom of the pack," according to the report. 

The report found that U.S. cities with publically owned networks, like Chattanooga or Lafayette, have speeds far exceeding cities with only traditional Internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T or Comcast.  

"In general, our research shows that these locally-owned networks tend to deliver better value to their customers when compared on a price-per-megabit basis to competing cable and telecom providers in their own cities," according to the report. 

Federal Communications Commissioner Tom Wheeler has noted that in many areas, broadband Internet customers have the choice of only two service providers. And there is less choice as customers seek faster speeds. He has pointed to Kansas City, where Google's deployment of gigabit service spurred cable companies to increase speed as well.  

“My goal is not to criticize, but to recognize that meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking and Americans need more competitive choices for faster and better Internet connections, both to take advantage of today’s new services, and to incentivize the development of tomorrow’s innovations," he said in a speech last month.