Americans Gouged for Wireless Data: Cell Service Both More Expensive and Slower Compared to Other Countries

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Feb 24, 2014 12:39 PM EST
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Despite having some of the slowest and worst-performing LTE wireless service of any country in the world, Americans pay much more in data charges to their providers (particularly Verizon) as well according to The Verge. Recent studies by Ookla show that compared to all major international carriers, Verizon was double the cost of every one of them except Japan's, whose is also higher than average.

The Verge says, "In fact, out of the 40 countries and territories with the most LTE tests in 2013, the US offered slower speeds than all of them, with the exception of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and India. Japan didn't fare much better, just one slot faster than the US."

The information collected shows that the average LTE speed provided by US carriers is around 13.2 Mbps--two to three times slower than the speeds customers in countries such as the UK, Canada, Germany and Australia receive.

Verizon charged around $4.05 per Mpbs of LTE download speed in 2013, with UK carrier EE charging only $2.25. Verizon was used because the study compared the largest carries in these countries, but the other American providers aren't much of a different story-AT&T and Sprint come down to $3.93 and $7.50 per Mbps respectively.

Slow speed is one thing that's bad enough on its own, but paying much more for it is where it really hurts.

There are some caveats. Americans are spread out over a much larger area, so speed can be inconsistent across the country, and we typically use much more data than other countries per person. Our networks are also older and get worse with more customers- the US is one of the only countries where LTE speeds got slower from 2012 to 2013.

In addition, availability of airwaves (government regulation) in each country affects the speeds, which will cause these variations. They also note there is a challenge in collecting reliable wireless data through these speed test programs, as with all surveys people tend to report overly positive or negative results (a very large sample was used, though).

But, whatever the reasons are, these disappointing differences do exist, and we are paying more for decidedly worse service. Unfortunately, this isn't likely to change soon unless the FCC creates the so far unprecedented necessary legislature to regulate the wireless system. The Verge has the rest of the full details on the studies in the article linked above.

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