For a nation whose indentity is increasingly known for technological innovation, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the United States' average download speed ranks far outside the top 10 for countries worldwide. A new infographic from Webhostingbuzz--a company that provides various web hosting services--ranks download speeds in the U.S. at 30th in the world behind such plugged-in countries like Lithuania (no.2), Latvia (no. 3), and Moldova (no. 8). South Korea, as you can see above, comes in at number one. The Aland Islands are also up there. Those, in case you were wondering, are some bits of land in the Baltic Sea belonging to Finland.
It's worth noting that these rankings have come out before with some subtle differences each time. A report by the Communications Workers of America a few years ago put the United States at 28th in the world, according to the AFP. South Korea was also the leader in that study. Net Index, a site connected to the web diagnostics company Ookla, has a chart that shows Latvia, Moldova and Lithuania in the top ten as well, with the United States at 29. But South Korea consistently comes out on top: even President Obama noted that "South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do" in his State of the Union address in January.
It's not exactly clear Internet speed leads to cyber-crime or vice versa--or if the two are even related at all--but many have noted the rise of cyber crime in various countries not traditionally considered technological powerhouses, particularly in Eastern Europe. "The advanced capabilities of hackers in eastern Europe and Russia is well known" reported The Times of London in February 2010, noting that "hackers from countries such as Latvia and Lithuania offer to work on sabotaging company websites for less than €65 a day." Yudhijit Bhattacharjee had an article in Wired in January calling a small mountain town in Romania "cybercrime central."
Nor is America's technological lag in this regard particularly new: a survey by the FCC in February 2010 indicated that nearly a third of all Americans lacked broadband internet with only a small percentage of these people using the Internet by dial-up or outside of their homes, according to The New York Times. Ars Technica reported in 2009 that the United States only ranked 20th in the world in terms of household broadband use based on a survey by Strategy Analytics.
So what is South Korea using all that speed for? "Most Korean consumers use their blessings of bandwidth largely for lightning Internet access and entertainment--multiplayer gaming, streaming Internet TV, fast video downloads and the like," reports The New York Times, while noting that "Internet addiction is already a worrisome social issue" there.
h/t: Robin Wauters at Techcrunch
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.