If you live in America, you pay more for worse Internet. Research on the United States' global performance for broadband speed, and the (high) costs at which customers pay for those (low) speeds points to one clear conclusion: Americans are getting screwed by Internet companies.
And it looks like things might get worse. If Comcast's proposed $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable actually goes through, then the newly formed gigantic company would have ~30 million customers and would dominate cable and Internet service throughout the U.S. This would be a disaster for consumers (as anyone who has had Comcast or Time Warner can attest), and would only make America's broadband cable situation more defunct.
That point is really hammered home when you visualize just how large the Comcast and Time Warner footprint will be. This interactive map via ValuePenguin shows which parts of the country will have LESS competition if the merger goes through. How does your town fare?
Less competition means a lesser likelihood of rate decreases. It also means that innovation for the service you're paying for will happen at a slower pace, as there is no need to outshine a rival.
So why is this important? In today's ultra-connected world, access to good Internet is critical for business, education, and communication. Companies relay on fast Internet to manage goods and services. Students scour webpages to further their knowledge. News travels lightening-quick across the net. Protests happen through cyber platforms. Hell, the United Nations has even declared Internet access a human right.
And yet ...
The World Economic Forum has ranked the U.S. (the inventor of the Internet) a pathetic 35th out of 148 countries worldwide in terms of broadband Internet bandwidth capacity. There are 34 countries — including Serbia, Mongolia, and Romania — that have better bandwidth capacity than the U.S. I mean, come on. Without competitive Internet speeds, the U.S. is missing out on countless technological and social benefits.
Another crushing report by Point Topic, a broadband market intelligence firm, ranks the United States 58th out of 90 countries for cost of broadband. Why so high? Because cable companies would rather squeeze as much juice as they can out of existing pipelines than upgrade their service. These companies are basically an oligopoly, with low competition and high fees.
If Comcast and Time Warner have their way, consumer satisfaction will only continue to plummet.