While European telcos are making strides are making strides with IPTV and U.S. telcos gradually roll out their own fiber network upgrades, Japan is getting all the praise for having the fastest Internet connections. What that means is that median Internet download speeds are faster in Japan (61 Mbps) than anywhere else in the world.
This probably isn't generally surprising to anyone who understands the telecom industry's typical East-to-West technology adoption pattern--new technologies like mobile broadband, DSL and fiber-to-the-home are almost always adopted earlier and more rapidly in Asia, followed by some European players, before the U.S. industry really gets involved.
In Japan though, progressive regulatory policy and dense population centers were key to creating first a competitive DSL environment of high bandwidth and low prices, and more recently, the most mature fiber-to-the-home market in the world. Regulators there forced ILEC NTT to unbundle DSL, which led to an influx of CLECs (equaling low prices) that were able to use shorter loops to reach more customers (equaling higher bandwidth). That competition drove NTT in turn to be more aggressive with fiber.
- Read more in this piece from The Washington Post