US Ranks Just 20th in Broadband Speed League

July 16, 2018

4:20 pm

In 2018, when streaming, video calls and online gaming are more popular than ever, fast broadband isn’t just a nicety, for many it’s a necessity. However, recent research by Cable.co.uk has shown that the US is lagging behind when it comes to speedy broadband, being outpaced by some surprising countries.

When you think of technical progress, your mind might not be instantly drawn to the likes of Romanian, Lithuania or Estonia, but on average, residents of these countries are pulling down faster broadband speeds than those in the US.

We’ve listed the top 20 ranking countries below, along with some of the reasons why we think the U.S. places so poorly.

US Lagging Behind On Broadband Rankings

So, which countries are putting us to shame? Well, the average download speed for those online in the States is 25.86 Mbps, meaning that downloading a typical HD movie of 5GB will take 26 minutes. By contrast, if you simply can’t wait to download the latest episode of Game of Thrones, you’ll want to move to Singapore, where the average download speed is an impressive 60.39 Mbps, over twice as fast as the US standard.

At the bottom of the pile is Yemen, ranked 200th, where even loading Twitter is likely to be a struggle, given the 0.31 Mbps speed.

It’s not all gloom though – believe it or not, some progress has been made. When the rankings were released last year, the US was placed 21st, meaning we’ve managed to climb one place.

Rank Country Average Broadband Speed (Mbps)
1 Singapore 60.39
2 Sweden 46.00
3 Denmark 43.99
4 Norway 40.12
5 Romania 38.60
6 Belgium 36.71
7 Netherlands 35.95
8 Luxembourg 35.14
9 Hungary 34.01
10 Jersey 30.90
11 Switzerland 29.92
12 Japan 28.94
13 Latvia 28.63
14 Taiwan 28.09
15 Estonia 27.91
16 Spain 27.19
17 Lithuania 27.17
18 Andorra 27.14
19 Hong Kong 26.45
20 US 25.86

If you want to feel slightly better about your broadband speed, take a look at where it ranks against other states. Last year, Cable produced a report that compared the average download speed by state, so even though you might be 20th in the world, you could well be number one in your own country (spoiler: only if you happen to live in Rhode Island).

Problems with US Broadband Infrastructure

So what is the reason for the double digit ranking? Well, let’s be honest, the USA is a big place, with huge rural areas that don’t lend themselves well to a broadband infrastructure. It’s perhaps not surprising that Singapore, rated first, has very few rural areas to contend with, and only has a population of six million. Considering that New York alone has a population of eight million, it hardly feels like a fair comparison.

However, we can’t pin all the blame on the vastness of the country. According to research by the Wireless Broadband Alliance, 60 million Americans living in urban areas don’t have access to, or can’t afford broadband. In fact, according to the research, of those that aren’t connected, the vast majority live in urban areas (79%) compared to rural (21%).

Another factor which is likely to have an affect on America’s broadband speeds going forward is the ongoing dismantling of Net Neutrality, which was repealed by the senate last month. While some states have kicked back against the ruling, it does mean that with no legal requirement to prioritize all data equally, providers could now impose speed restrictions on all but the highest bidder, which could not only be bad news for the average user experience, but internet speeds in general.

It will be interesting to see how this is reflected in the same figures next year.

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Jack is a senior writer at Tech.co with over a decade's experience researching and writing about consumer technology, from security and privacy to product reviews and tech news.

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