The broadband sitrep

I found this awesome infographic on Gizmodo today (click on the picture to make it larger).

The data’s been taken from various sources (which are named on the picture), and shows the costs, and speeds, of broadband internet around the world.

Of course, as we already know, New Zealand is somewhat behind the curve in a few respects: price/month for 1mbps is in the $5-10 range and its average broadband speed (mbps) is below 4 mbps. Its broadband penetration, however, is just under 80% (although, having had a look at the Internet World Stats data, this may actually be internet, not broadband, penetration).

Some discussion:

First, the positive. Penetration is really high here - would anyone like to comment on why that might be so? I imagine that it is, at least, in part due to our small population, and the very small (relatively) number of people who’re unable to afford internet at all. Possibly it’s also a communication thing - many of us know people elsewhere in the world, and the internet’s the best way of communicating with them. Any other ideas?

Secondly, the less positive. The internet here is expensive, particularly if one looks at the speeds we get. Yes, I could fork out a great deal of money each month for the fastest possible line, but I don’t want to. I’m probably spoilt, having recently spent time in the UK and having access there to fast, cheap internet.

I understand that there are reasons for the price and speed of the internet here, certainly. We have are a small, isolated country. Absolutely. Market forces and whatnot. Of course. But we also used to be known for being on the forefront of at least some technologies - ’nuff said there, as there are many, far more knowledgeable, people who can speak to that.

And, of course, we have something of monopoly in terms of copper ownership. South Africa (my homeland) has an interestingly analogous situation: there, a giant telecoms company called Telkom (I kid you not) has had something of a stranglehold as well, owing to its ownership of all the copper. Unsurprisingly, telecomms and particularly internet prices there are very high, and speeds rather low.

Hopefully it’ll change, and there have been mutterings of late in that direction from various sectors etc: indeed, fellow blogger John Nixon has in fact written a little on the subject. And Abhiskeh Tiwari has pointed out that Finland has just made internet access a legal right…

I’m just jealous of Japan, I guess - look at those speeds! And the ridiculously low cost of them! Yes, that is what happens with a densely populated, tech-obsessed (in many respects) nation, but you won’t find me complaining, and my resolve to visit just strengthened that little bit.

Note: check out this great video explaining Australia’s National Broadband Network plans. If nothing else, it’s a great example of really good design in terms of the graphics etc.