Global broadband snapshot: Hong Kong throttles the rest of the world

East Asia is cheaper and faster

Anyone who thinks their Verizon fiber connection is fast ought to spend a week hanging out in East Asia.

According to an informal survey of advertised global broadband speeds conducted by IDG publications around the world (IDG publishes Network World and ARN), East Asian countries boast some of the fastest advertised connections around, with four countries featuring at least one carrier claiming average download speeds of 100Mbps or higher.

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The leader of the pack is Hong Kong, with advertised broadband download speeds of a whopping 300Mbps and 300Mbps upload speeds to match. Other East Asia countries in the 100Mbps download club include Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, all of which have at least one ISP advertising those rates. Other countries that have ISPs advertising 100Mbps or higher speeds are Poland, Germany and Canada.

What's even more impressive than some of the advertised speeds in many of the 100Mbps+ countries is the service prices. Hong Kong's 300Mbps service, for instance, costs just $40 a month and includes television service. Taiwan's 100Mbps service, meanwhile, costs $US24 a month, while South Korea's costs $31 a month. In the US, by contrast, 25Mbps Internet access will run you about $US75 per month and doesn't include television.

In terms of bang for the buck, Hong Kong came out on top in the informal survey when you look at cost per megabit (which we calculated by dividing the cost by the combined download and upload data rates). Hong Kong only charges six cents per megabit, followed by South Korea (16 cents per Mb), Taiwan (22 cents per Mb) and Bulgaria (27 cents per Mb). The United States' top service, meanwhile, charges $US1.50 per megabit.

Although the IDG survey of countries is informal and unscientific, it does broadly align with past findings from other studies on broadband speeds that have shown the United States lagging behind other countries. The latest data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), for instance, shows Japan and South Korea near the top in terms of average advertised broadband speeds, while countries such as Sweden, Portugal and France also fare well. According to the OECD, the US has an average advertised broadband speed of just under 15Mbps, well behind most of the industrialized world.

The Federal Communications Commission has stepped up its efforts to collect accurate data on Americans' broadband speeds over the past two years as it has launched its own do-it-yourself connection speed testing program on the website to help consumers "test their broadband service and report areas where broadband is not available." Taking the test requires users to list the address they're accessing the Web from and also whether they are using the Web at home or at a business. From there, the test measures the connection's download and upload speeds as well as its latency and jitter.

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