Singapore, Chile top broadband speeds as US ranks 6th: Ookla

  • The U.S. came in sixth place in Ookla's recent global fixed broadband ranking
  • Singapore and Chile were among the countries that pulled ahead with median download speed
  • Deploying broadband across a large landmass like the U.S. is rife with challenges, said an Ookla analyst

There’s more to broadband than just speed, but nonetheless internet speed is still pretty important. And the U.S. has some work to do on that front, compared to other countries.

According to Ookla’s global fixed broadband rankings for May, the U.S. came in sixth with a median download speed of 248.27 Mbps. So, who came ahead?

Singapore claimed first with a fixed download speed of 289.98 Mbps, followed by Hong Kong (282.48 Mbps), Chile (274.46), United Arab Emirates (272.90) and Iceland (255.69).

It’s important to keep in mind the challenges of deploying high-speed broadband across a large landmass like the U.S., said Mark Giles, lead industry analyst at Ookla.

The NTIA’s $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program aims to tackle just that, but it’s uncertain when BEAD-funded deployments will actually begin.

Moreover, the NTIA’s allocated only $1 billion for expanding middle mile infrastructure – an amount that some operators, like Lumen, have said it’s not enough to close rural coverage gaps.

“Legacy broadband technology, e.g. DSL, continues to hold the U.S. back,” Giles told Fierce.

In theory, 248.27 Mbps sounds pretty fast. But there’s “a wide spread of performance around that value,” he explained, depending on which technologies are being used.

“The top 10% of Speedtest users clocked download speeds at 698.62 Mbps or greater, driven by greater adoption of faster fiber and cable technologies,” Giles said. “At the other end of the scale, the lower 10% of users recorded speeds of 30.49 Mbps or less — more in line with legacy broadband technologies such as DSL.”

Disparities in speed among states is another problem. For instance, Ookla found Rhode Island, Connecticut and Florida had the fastest median download speeds in May. At the bottom end were states like Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, the latter having a median speed of 96.31 Mbps.

Rising stars of high-speed internet

Four of the countries ranked higher than the U.S. are either city states or relatively small markets, “with large proportions of their populations concentrated in one or two cities,” Giles said.

Singapore for instance is buzzing with telecom activity. Singaporean provider Singtel recently unveiled a deal with KKR to grow its presence in the booming data center market. Startup Trancelestial, also based in Singapore, has developed a device that delivers high-speed internet via laser beam.

The U.S. actually pulled ahead of China (233.38 Mbps) and France (237.06), both of which are comparable markets, he noted.

That’s not to say China and France aren’t putting in work with their broadband speeds. A study from Opensignal last October found France had the fastest average download speed in Europe, followed by Spain.

Meanwhile China launched in May its first medium orbit broadband satellites. Huawei and China Mobile have also built a 1,860-mile nationwide backbone, which they claimed can achieve a “stable and reliable” bandwidth of 1.2 Tbps.

Chile is an interesting case. The country has “benefited from a rapid migration to fiber, and strong competition among fiber players in the market,” Giles explained.

Here in the U.S. we have AT&T and BlackRock’s Gigapower joint venture, which operates a wholesale, open access fiber network. But Chile also has an open access fiber player – OnNet Fibra – a joint venture between Telefónica and KKR. Launched in February 2021, OnNet added more than 400,000 homes passed in 2023.

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