Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Performance Gaps Rarely Persist--Across Countries, Regions or Service Providers

It always is dangerous to make longer-term predictions based on where technologies or service providers are at the moment. The reason is simply that capabilities can change rapidly, even unexpectedly.

Over the last couple of decades, it has been argued that the United States was “way behind” Europe in use of mobile phones, way behind Japan in access speed, or more recently that Europe as “way behind” the United States in 4G network availability and adoption.

Others have argued that U.S. Internet access prices were high, compared to other countries perceived as leaders. But price is relative. One has to adjust for general price levels across countries, and then to adjust for retail plan differences, to derive price per megabit per second, for example.

Even in 2007, when the price differentials were said to be quite disparate, on a cost per Mbps, U.S., French, German and Japanese prices were comparable.

The point is that such gaps always have closed.

Many have argued that average or peak U.S. Internet access speeds lagged either Europe or world levels. Those gaps also will close. Since 2011 alone, U.S. Internet access speeds have tripled.

From 2015 to 2016 alone, U.S. Internet access speeds  got 40 percent faster. Much of the credit for those advances goes to U.S. cable TV companies, who are rapidly increasing speeds.

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