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The Top 10 Countries for Fast and Affordable Internet Doesn’t Include the U.S.

CTA Staff

Global leaders are waking up to the economic opportunities high-speed internet can bring. For instance, 42 percent of businesses in Denmark said they rely on high-speed internet, mobile devices and social media in their day-to-day operations.

Our first-ever International Innovation Scorecard tracked the speed and cost for fixed and mobile broadband in 38 countries and the European Union as one indicator of supporting homegrown tech. We also tracked which global policymakers are taking steps to make reliable internet connections more accessible to their citizens.

These are the top 10 countries for both fast and affordable internet.

1. United Kingdom

At 26 mbps, the UK has the fastest average mobile broadband speed. For fixed broadband it’s tied for ninth place with the Czech Republic with an average speed of 16.9 mbps.

In 2017, British officials codified their commitment to widespread high-speed internet service. The new proposal requires broadband companies to provide connections of at least 10 mbps by 2020.

2. Germany

With an average mobile broadband speed of 24.1 mbps, more German citizens are making use of the country’s speedy connections. From 2013 to 2017, the number of its mobile users nearly doubled from 28.8 million to 54.9 million.

At the same time, the country lags behind some of its neighbors with an average fixed internet speed of just 15.3 mbps. A $15 billion proposal to modernize Germany’s broadband network could help bridge that gap. The plan – proposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition – to get nationwide gigabit internet by 2025 requires installing fiber optic cables across the country.

3. Finland

The first country to say internet access is a legal right comes in third in both average fixed connection speed (20.5 mbps) and average mobile speed (21.6 mbps). Even Finland’s oldest cities are getting up to speed. Finnish telecommunications company Elisa promised a 5G network in Turku, a city first settled in the 13th Century.

4. France

With over  51 million mobile broadband subscriptions as of June 2017, more than three quarters of the French population is taking advantage of the country’s top-notch mobile speeds (17.4 mbps). A pilot project by French telecommunications company Orange will increase those speeds even further by rolling out 5G trials in Lille and Douai. “This is the beginning of transformation that will affect the whole of our society and lead us towards a genuinely 5G Generation,” said Orange’s Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière. 

5. and 6. The European Union ties with Denmark

The European group of member states, and one of its very own member states, both have average mobile broadband speeds of 16.6 mbps. Those speeds cater to a growing demand. In 2017, 97 percent of Danish households had internet access, second only to the Netherlands among EU member states. In the EU, nearly 80 percent of internet users used mobile specifically to surf the web in 2016. 

A €500 million fund to expand European broadband connections – which aim to boost small-scale projects – should also help to bring high-speed internet access to underserved areas.

7. Belgium

Coming in right behind with an average mobile speed of 16.2 mbps is another EU member state. Belgian consumers have been vocal about their demand for faster mobile connections, prompting Orange to launch its first unlimited mobile subscription in Belgium. “Many of them were asking for extra data due to the growing success of various social media, videos and streaming services,” said Orange CEO Michaël Trabbia. “We simply listened to them and are proud to launch the very first fully unlimited mobile offer in Belgium supported by our leading 4G network.”

8. Australia

One of the top adopters of smartphones worldwide with 88 percent of Australians owning a smartphone, the country also tops our list with its average mobile broadband speeds of 15.7 mbps. But can too much of a good thing be bad? Last year, the number of Australians who streamed video on a smartphone tripled and 43 percent of Australian consumers reported going over the data limits.

9. Japan

Japan had one of the highest rates of mobile broadband subscriptions in the world in 2016, with 131.9 subscriptions per 100 citizens. The country boasts average mobile speeds of 15.6 mbps and fixed speeds of 20.2 mbps.

10. The Netherlands

The Netherlands has an average of 15 mbps for its mobile broadband and is among the top EU members for its mobile penetration. Nearly 90 percent of the Dutch use mobile internet connections, well above the EU average of 65 percent.

The same goes for fixed broadband speeds, with an average of 17.4 mbps and an astonishing 98 percent of households on the internet in 2017. The Netherlands tops every other EU state by that measure.

For more on how countries around the world are promoting innovation, check out our 2018 International Scorecard.