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5/21/2008
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U.S. Broadband Penetration, Speeds Lag Behind Other Countries

The United States ranked 15th out of 30 countries for broadband penetration at the end of last year, slipping from 12th place in 2006, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The United States ranked 15th out of 30 countries for broadband penetration at the end of last year, according to an analysis released this week.

The country's ranking slipped from fourth place in 2001 and 12th place in 2006, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. U.S. consumers also pay more than their counterparts in more than two-thirds of the countries studied by OECD. They're not getting faster speeds either, according to figures released Tuesday.

The United States ranked eighth for broadband costs, behind the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Mexico, Iceland, Hungary, Poland, and Norway.

The United States fell in the middle in terms of maximum download speeds advertised. By the end of last year, the fastest download speed advertised in the United States was 50 Mbps. Cable companies in 10 countries advertise faster download speeds and 26 countries advertise faster DSL download speeds. In Japan, 1,000 Mbps speeds are available.

The OECD recommended more competition and consumer choice, network improvements, and increased public funding for open access.

Critics, including the media reform group Free Press, say the findings indicate that the United States has failed to create policies to give American consumers adequate broadband access.

"The fact is that the countries outperforming the United States have something we lack -- a coherent national broadband policy," S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press, said in a statement. "Policymakers who are serious about America's economic and social well-being should focus on the open access policies that bring the benefits of broadband to all Americans."

The OECD said the United States is the largest broadband market among its rankings, with 69.9 million subscribers who account for 30% of all broadband connections in more than 100 countries involved with the OECD.

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