Here in the United States, the fastest option for fiber-to-home broadband access is around 50 megabits a second for downloading and 20 megabits a second for uploading and costs $144.99 per month through Verizon. Sounds about right, right?
But people living in Hong Kong are currently able to get 1,000 megabits a second (yes, an entire gigabit a second) for less than $26 a month.
So, why aren’t speeds like this available in the United States? How did we fall so far behind?
High speed, low cost internet in Hong Kong is being offered by Hong Kong Broadband Network, a subsidiary of City Telecom, who were willing to operate at a loss for seven years. During this time, the company built an intricate fiber network, which allows them to currently offer such high speeds at such a low cost.
A large hold up for the US high speed internet market is a lack of competition. There are no highly motivated companies building a fiber optic network here in the United States. Verizon (the nation’s leading internet provider) and other internet service providers have no reason to saturate their market with lower prices and more competition. That’s just bad business.
Does that mean we’re doomed to internet that is 80% slower than Hong Kong while costing more than five times their price? Hopefully not. Google, the jack-of-all-trades company, is working on a campus with high speeds comparable to those available in Hong Kong. And they’re already working to bringing this ultra-high speed internet to test communities of consumers.
What would I do with a gig per second internet? I have no idea. Hell, streaming HD video only uses 23 megabits a second. But, dammit, I want my gigabit per second!