US and Canada out of global top 10 list for fastest mobile and broadband speeds—expanding infrastructure will be a challenge

The news: The US and Canada have fallen out of the Top 10 list for fastest mobile and broadband speeds even as global mobile and broadband speeds have surged, per PCMag.

The results: Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index survey showed that global mobile and broadband speeds have jumped 60% and 32%, respectively over the last year despite increased demand due to the pandemic and the transition to 5G.

  • The US ranked 8th back in 2019, fell from 9th in 2020, to missing the top 10 completely in 2021—Ookla also found the US trailing behind in 5G speeds in January.
  • Canada fell off the mobile speeds Top 10 in 2021.
  • For mobile, the fastest countries are United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Qatar, China, Cyprus, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Australia, and Bulgaria.
  • For broadband, the world’s fastest countries are Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Romania, Switzerland, South Korea, Chile, Denmark, and Liechtenstein.

Why it’s worth watching: According to the report, part of the problem in the US is inaccurate coverage maps for both broadband and mobile; and low speed requirements for broadband.

  • The FCC recently put out its first mobile coverage maps earlier this year, and plans to do the same for broadband. 
  • Senators have called on the FCC to raise the standard for baseline broadband from 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps, per Ars Technica.
  • The US Senate’s sprawling $1 trillion infrastructure package is seeking $65 billion for investment for the next five years in reliable high-speed internet, particularly in remote and underserved areas which could improve overall broadband speeds.

The bigger picture: Years-long supply chain delays and fiber shortages will greatly complicate the update efforts for broadband and 5G infrastructure, which will have a knock-on effect for Internet speeds.

  • As the rest of the world’s overall speeds increase, the US and Canada falling behind puts pressure on governments and service providers to fast-track building necessary infrastructure to remain competitive.