January 12, 2015
In a 2010 study published in Information Technology & People, researchers found that access to high-speed public Wi-Fi had the possible impact of reducing or eliminating the digital divide, thereby bridging various real-life inequities in society. Titled “Approaching digital equity: is wifi the new leveler?”, the study supports modern-day arguments for providing high-speed public Wi-Fi – all centered around this issue of social equality. It's been five years since the study was published and surely society overall has progressed rapidly (at least digitally) since, so the question is: which countries are best when it comes to high-speed public Wi-Fi?
Rotten Wi-Fi, a testing service that looks at public Wi-Fi networks around the world, recently ranked the top 20 countries for high-speed public Wi-Fi. Looking at speed and customer satisfaction, the organization evaluated the quality of public Wi-Fi networks in 172 countries. And, it seems, when it comes to public Wi-Fi, Lithuania has every other country beat per its average download and upload speeds. The United States managed to make the cut in the top 20, placing in 20th place. The rankings are interesting, though, in that countries like South Korea and Japan don't make the cut; this is surprising considering that both are countries renowned for their unmatched, fast Internet speeds – indeed, in one of our top stories of 2014, contributor Angela Freeman writes that South Korea is trying to push out a 5G network by 2017.
Access to high-speed public Wi-Fi has become an increasingly important issue for social activists in recent years. With our growing reliance on digital technologies, the real world and the digital have become one; accordingly so, the skills most valuable today are those involving some level of competence with technology. But there's a huge disconnect when you've got a country's President advocating for growth in the STEM sector while continuing to allow its citizens to have inadequate access to high-speed public Wi-Fi. Honestly, it surprises me that the U.S. managed to rank in the top 20, considering even our city-level struggles to provide this access – and maybe it would benefit to look further into Rotten Wi-Fi's methodology. Check them out, anyway.
Here are the 20 best countries for high-speed public Wi-Fi according to Rotten Wi-Fi:
(H/T World Economic Forum)
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