Many of us would now consider a high speed internet connection to be one of the essential services that we need in our homes. A fast connection is not just important at work, but also when we want to relax at home to play a game online, or watch Internet TV. The cost of internet access in the US has tended to be higher than the cost of similar services in other parts of the world, due to a lack of competition between providers, but the situation has been changing in such a way that it now pays to compare the options available to you from different providers in your area. Being ready to switch providers, even if you are not thinking of moving, can result in significant savings.
The Spread of High Speed Services
Complaints about patchy internet coverage used to be a common feature of articles about technology in the US. Many commentators still talk about America lagging behind the world in terms of both coverage and price, but the situation is no longer as bleak as it used to be. Although access to high speed services remains poor in some parts of the country, a huge investment in the infrastructure has made coverage a lot better over the last few years. Average internet speeds in the US have been increasing rapidly, with the country now placed 8th in the world for speed, although the cost of services here can still be more than double that of similar speed connections in Europe. The average speed of an internet connection in the US is now 7.7 Mbps, and about 18% of connections have speeds of more than 10 Mbps.
The services that are available in your area can still depend on where you live. Urban areas typically have the fastest services and the greatest number of providers. The fastest speeds are typically found in the most populated areas along the Northeast corridor, where they average more than 9 Mbps. Your service can depend on where you live, with some rural areas still relying on much slower connections, but high speed networks are now available across most of the country. Your options for service speeds and providers can change if you move to a new region, but you can also find new choices arising in your current area. It used to be the case that many regions were covered by just one or two internet providers, but it is now common for there to be much more competition as new providers enter the market. Comparing the services and providers that are available can be a good idea, even if you are not moving from one house to another.
Increasing Choice and Decreasing Cost
You are now much more likely to have the option of choosing a high speed service, wherever you live, but you are also likely to find that prices are much lower than they were just a few years ago. Many of the complaints that used to be made about internet provision in the US revolved around a lack of competition between providers. Most people used to have little or no choice between internet providers, since there were just one or two companies supplying their area, which kept prices high. The costs are now dropping, because more companies are now competing for customers, even in areas that used to be monopolized by single providers. The ITIF reports that 89% of people are now able to choose between the services of at least five different broadband providers. The US ranks third among OECD countries for coverage by at least two networks.
Internet provision in the US used to be compared negatively with many European countries, where a large range of service providers was more commonly available, leading to lower prices. People in countries like the UK have always had access to a large number of different internet providers, and they have been encouraged to compare services and prices to get the best deal. Competition for customers meant that prices in Europe were often much lower than those in the US, but as competition has increased over here, we have seen prices falling dramatically. Meanwhile, Europe has lagged behind in terms of investment in the infrastructure, meaning that while people often have cheap internet access, the speed and quality of their service may not be as good as it is in the US. Countries in Europe are now looking to the US for an example of how to increase access to high speed services. Although people in the UK and other European services often had access to a range of different providers, and were able to compare their options to choose the best deal, when most people here were still limited to just one or two choices, no one in Europe was investing in the infrastructure as the service providers were doing in this country. Service providers over there have been able to sell internet services to households anywhere in the country, without having to take responsibility for building and improving the actual infrastructure that carries their connections. Competition for customers between all of the providers meant that prices were often lower than in the US, but the quality of the high speed services has suffered. Internet providers in the US have been investing in building a high speed network across the country, resulting in a cable broadband network that is now within the reach of more than 80% of the population, and which is capable of providing services of at least 100 Mbps. Only 2% of households in Europe have access to a network of this speed. Now that prices are coming down due to competition, our high speed infrastructure is looking much healthier than the services in Europe.
The Cost of a Fast Connection
The availability of high speed connections across the country, and the fact that competition between providers has increased, means that it is now possible to make big savings on the cost of your high speed internet connection just by comparing providers. Being ready to switch services, rather than simply remaining loyal to your current provider, can lead to significant savings, so it is worth checking what is available even if you are not moving house. The benefit of increased competition between internet providers can then be felt in your household budget.
Allconnect is a free online resource to review and compare the costs and choices for essential home services, including home utilities, high speed Internet, phone, cable TV, satellite TV, and home security systems