The United States of America is home to many great things, with widespread Internet access
typically counted among them. But if you've been paying attention, just having access isn't the token that it used to be, and by and large, the USA has stagnated in terms of Internet innovation. Based off of results from a recent Ookla Speedtest study, the USA is quickly falling behind in terms of globally-ranked Internet speeds. Presently, the United States ranks 31st in average download rates and a woeful 42nd on the upload side.
That's pitiful, no matter how you slice it. The USA now ranks behind Hungary, Slovakia, and Estonia when it comes to download rates, which makes absolutely no sense at all. That is, until you look at the Internet marketplace in our country.
Massive telecommunications companies have essentially decided to divide and conquer territories in the United States. This swath belongs to Comcast; this one to Time Warner Cable; etc. That kind of business model has essentially left the big guns with zero competition, and given the wildly high costs involved with becoming an ISP, America isn't seeing too many companies sprout up to disrupt the status quo. In areas where Google Fiber has emerged, services from rivals have improved and prices have dropped. But even Google can't spook every single market into working like it should.
The answer? It's tough to say. There has been deregulation in the Internet market, but it hasn't led to increased competition. Many experts are suggesting that America mimic the approach taken by South Korea, which established a market where newcomers were actually favored over existing giants.
One thing's for sure: allowing Comcast and Time Warner Cable to become one certainly won't help us rise in the rankings, but it's looking like the tie-up is all but a given.