America: Still the High-Speed Laggard

“Compared to South Korea, Japan, even Canada, broadband adoption in the U.S. is falling behind. For 20% of Americans, it’s not even an option

In the early 1990s, Taylor Reynolds spent time as an exchange student in South Korea — a good deal of it hunting for a computer on which to write his term papers. “I finally found someone whose sister worked in a preschool, and it had a computer,” he remembers. “I had to go in on Saturdays to use it.”

Reynolds, now a telecommunications analyst at the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), an international body that researchers the state of world economies, says South Korea is a far different place today, with 73% of the population enjoying high-speed Net access at home. “It was quite a transformation,” he says. However, his parents in Salt Lake City, Utah, can’t even get a digital subscriber line (DSL) high-speed Net connection from their phone company, Qwest.

They’re not the only Americans missing out on the broadband boom. Countries like South Korea, Demark, and even Canada are leapfrogging ahead of the U.S. in broadband adoption. Thanks to high costs, very little competition, and the logistical challenges of wiring large metropolitan areas, the U.S. is increasingly losing ground to other countries when it comes to broadband penetration and access.”

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