Americans get ultra-cheap broadband in real terms

September 2, 2010

Americans get ultra-cheap broadband in real termsUnited States internet users may complain about the cost of their broadband package, but global figures suggest they are getting a relatively great deal. Compared with income levels, the US actually has the third cheapest average broadband in the world.

The figures come from the International Telecommunications Union, the United Nations agency responsible for global tech issues. It looked at the cheapest fixed line broadband package available in each country, then compared the monthly subscription rate with the average monthly income.

The only countries where broadband was relatively cheaper than the US were Macau, a semi-independent country partly controlled by China (where the broadband cost 0.3 percent of average monthly income) and Israel (0.49 percent), which just pipped the US on 0.5 percent. Singapore, Luxembourg and Denmark followed shortly behind.

The most expensive country in relative terms was the Central African Republic where the cheapest broadband costs 3891% of average income. Put another way, a month’s broadband service costs more than three years’ average wages in the country, compared with less than two hours’ earnings in Macau.

The rest of the five relatively most expensive countries were all in Africa: Ethiopia, Malawi, Guinea and Niger.

The ITU released the figures to the BBC to support its secretary general Hamadoun Toure’s argument that “access to broadband in an affordable manner is our greatest challenge.” He says that broadband can assist in every global development priority such as schools and healthcare.

The UN takes that point so seriously that it will be listing access to communications technology as one of a new set of global targets for 2015, alongside education, health and gender equality.

According to Toure, broadband has now taken over from mobile communications as the top international priority. He predicts that within two years, virtually everyone in the world will have the potential to access some form of mobile phone.

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