Report: U.S. Broadband Usage Down

PARIS - According to updated data released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks 15th in broadband usage worldwide. 

The U.S., which ranked fourth in broadband usage in 2001, reportedly has been dropping consistently. 

However, broadband usage in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries has been booming, growing 187 percent since 2004. Since then, average advertised speeds have risen from 2 Mbps to 9 Mbps, and prices have plummeted. 

Broadband remains popular in nations with colder climates, with fiber-to-the-home connections accounting for 8 percent of all broadband connections in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

The new data illustrates the quick progress of fiber-to-the-home, which makes up 40 percent of all broadband connections in Japan and 34 percent in Korea. The U.S. ranks 11th in fiber-to-the-home connections.

Defenders of U.S. broadband progress cite geography as a principal reason for the decline in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rankings, pointing out that countries with high populations build infrastructures cheaply and quickly.

The new report also demonstrates that broadband in general is weak when it comes to fiber-to-the-home connections.

"Some of the key developments in fiber deployments have been away from the main city centers," the report notes. "The previous three years have seen a surge in the number of smaller communities investing in fiber-to-the-home infrastructure. For example, the town of Nuenen in the Netherlands, with 8,000 homes, is reported to have passed 7,200 in the town and signed up 6,500 subscribers for [fiber-to-the-home] services."

Norway and Sweden are among the countries that exceed the U.S. in fiber rollout levels. About 8 percent of Sweden's connections are fiber-optic, despite lower population density.

Five of the 14 countries ahead of the U.S. in broadband usage have lower population densities.