Netflix Ranks Internet Speeds, and Canadian ISPs Clean Our Clocks One benefit of being the largest video-streaming company in the world is that you can easily track download speeds on different North American broadband Internet service providers -- which is just what hyper-technical Netflix (NFLX) did. The company posted a chart on Thursday showing its findings for streaming speeds, and ISPs in Canada, on average, handily beat their U.S. counterparts.

Canadian customers enjoyed download speeds of 2.5 megabits per second to well above 3 megabits per second. U.S. networks delivered speeds ranging from just above 1 megabit per second to around 2.7 megabits per second. By some measures, the U.S. ranks 32nd in average broadband download speeds.

Stuck in First Gear

The relatively slow speeds of the U.S. networks compared to the rest of the world made sense, but the speed rates reported by Netflix looked too slow to me. After all, Verizon's (VZ) FiOS network has extremely fast download speeds due to its architecture of pulling a fiber optic cable to each subscriber. So why didn't Verizon rank higher?

Because, apparently, Verizon still has plenty of DSL customers left (digital subscriber line technology is a far slower service). And many cable Internet providers in the U.S. can't seem to get it out of first gear, despite all their advertising campaigns about blazing speeds.

Complaints that U.S. broadband networks lag far behind those of other countries aren't new, and Canada is a mild example. in most surveys, South Korea, Japan, Finland and even former Eastern Bloc countries such as Romania run rings around U.S. networks.

Here's what interests me most about the Netflix analysis: Most U.S. broadband providers advertise download speeds of higher than 3 megabits per second as their entry-level product. All the cable connections that I've purchased lately have claimed to offer speeds of 5 megabits per second or greater.

Granted, the fine print states "speeds up to" rather than, say, "average speeds of." But the Netflix numbers make me question whether there's any real difference between the different speed tiers that ISPs sell. The top tier generally costs $20 to $25 per month more than the lowest, and that price differential is probably pure profit for the big ISPs.

Broadband as a Competitiveness Factor

None of this would really be an issue at all if the U.S. had crossed the threshold that assured enough bandwidth to households to alleviate any issues with supersize downloads and high-definition video streaming. Far be it from me to describe a policy or economic structure that would bring us to that point.

But perhaps, as the U.S. government seeks ways for the nation to maintain its competitive advantage, it could put some effort into figuring out a way to kick up broadband speeds a notch. Catching up to the rest of the world on high-speed Internet infrastructure couldn't hurt America's chances of maintaining the economic edge everyone fears this country is losing.


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jagcapt007

Liberals tend to forget that America has more Californians than Canada has Canadians. 85% of all canadians live directly off the United States border thus it's so much easier to provide Power and services. I live in a rich area in LI and we have blinding speeds thanks to fiber optics. I enjoy it, however their is so much more to life than the internet. We also have great Schools and hospitals, that treat you within 45 minutes (out the door) if one needs stitches or cast. In Canada that a minimum 8 hours wait on good days. I enjoyed Canada, but I love New York. I have so many Canadian friends demand to come to my LI home for vacation. It's always cheaper to dine out, and just enjoy life without massive service charges, and vandalisms to our mobiles.

January 31 2011 at 9:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jagcapt007's comment
cazsue

Name one Canadian that would trade their health care for ours? There are none! Anecdotes about how fast you get treated here and lies about waits in the Canadian system don't change the fact that we rank well below most countries in health care outcomes. Plus the agony of the uninsured, under-insured, those kicked off by the true Death Panels - insurance companies. WAY more vandalism in the US, BTW!!!

February 01 2011 at 2:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Terry

damn, the media is RELENTLESS...they get their teeth into something and they just keep coming at you...the media comes up with more ways to basically say "America sucks"...it's almost to the point where every article is about how horrible America is...it can be something that has NOTHING to do with politics...it could be like about cooking some food...and the person who writes the article can find a way to slip in something about how badly America sucks...

America is a living hell on earth because George Bush was president and he was Satan personified, he was the most evil man ever to walk the face of the earth and the rest of the world hates our guts because George W. Bush is the president...

so we elect his exact opposite, we elect someone who during his entire campaign AGREED with the critics of America and toured the world apologizing for us both before and after he got elected, but it hasn't worked...they STILL tell us what a bunch of horrible people we are and how much we suck...

does anyone else get tired of listening to this constant drumbeat??

January 31 2011 at 7:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Terry's comment
cazsue

Don't you ever get tired of defending the greedy instead of demanding change?

February 01 2011 at 2:38 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ickster01

My own experience is with OTT Communications, which is my dsl provider. They "guaranteed' 3 megs per second connectivity, but when we started losing the internet connection repeatedly due to noise on the line, they were going to send a tech out. The tech never showed up, and the problem seemed to fix itself. I went to Speedtest.net and saw they had dialed me back to 2.2 megs! Sure, it makes sense to them fiscally. They probably saved themselves the price of a new wire from the telephone post to the house! Most folks live fat dumb and happy thinking they are getting their advertised speed. Check for yourselves by googling one of the many speed checks out there.

January 31 2011 at 3:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ralgats

Netflix still has some work to do to provide english subtitles for the hearing impaired in their streamed videos. The DVD's they mail have it. Why not the streamed videos?? RLG

January 29 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pjg5

Dear Mr Salkever. How much does the average Canadian pay for high speed vs what America pays?

January 29 2011 at 8:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
I Am Ray

I dont think it's so much monopolies as the fact that the US is such a large country. As you've read, Canada may be faster, but not by much compared to those other countries in EU and Asia, plus major canadian population is pretty concentrated along the southern border. US population spread is...the whole country!! Rewiring the network of this country is a multibillion expense that not even the giant Verizon can tackle in a big lumpsum. And that is part of the problem. If companies were smaller and more localized, rewiring one state wouldn't be such a daunting task.

January 28 2011 at 9:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to I Am Ray's comment
Ric

I agree with you Ray. However, one must ask. What does our inability to get beyond culture wars and wondering, if Obama is really an Islamic Kenyan? Doesn't have something to do that keeps us from inspiring the big networds from moving forward? We are almost as divided today as we were in 1856, I really feel that this division has played a role as well.

January 29 2011 at 8:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
imtrulysavedru2

US providers have so little incentive to increase speeds because they enjoy government-protected monopolies in so many areas. Where I live, the monopoly cable provider provided horrible service until Verizon started negotiations with the city to install FiOS. Then cable Internet access increased in speed almost overnight by an order of magnitude, with far less downtime. Now that the city and Verizon have broken off negotiations, the cable company is letting the service go to pot again.

January 28 2011 at 8:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to imtrulysavedru2's comment
cazsue

Who protects business over consumers? Republicans.

February 01 2011 at 2:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
bfpowersjr

Mr. Salkever: I agree with your article.

January 28 2011 at 7:36 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
mobeck

It's the same reason a pound of coffee is now 10.5 ozs. Cheap greedy ***********.

January 28 2011 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mobeck's comment
Terry

you should get as worked up about government in New York at all levels confiscating billions of dollars and they can't even plow some snow...private companies can't hold a candle to the amazing greed and incompetence in government, particularly city governments in blue states...

January 31 2011 at 7:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ken

its all in the way they say it i think they the carriers slow it down so they can upgrade you when you ask why all the sudden its slow to make more money off you

January 28 2011 at 2:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply