Report: U.S. networks out perform Europe's during COVID-19 pandemic

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According to a report, U.S. mobile and fixed broadband networks outperform their EU counterparts during the coronavirus pandemic. (Getty Images)

U.S. fixed and mobile networks out-performed their European counterparts during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.

The Center for Business and Public Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business released a paper detailing how broadband networks held up under the bandwidth surge prompted by COVID-19 lockdowns.

The U.S. fixed broadband download speeds exceeded speeds in the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) by a wide margin. Based on Ookla's speed tests from March 2 to June 7, the U.S. mean download speed during the pandemic was 138 Mbps while the weighted mean download speeds of the EU, EU-4 (Germany, France, Italy and Spain) and OECD were 102 Mbps, 106 Mbps and 89 Mbps, respectively. Overall, the global mean download speed was 75 Mbps.

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“Three factors that may account for that are the high level of investment in telecommunications by U.S. carriers, the prevalence of high-speed fixed-broadband networks in the United States, and a light-touch regulatory environment," said Anna-Maria Kovacs, visiting senior policy scholar, Center for Business and Public Policy and author of the paper, in a statement.

Service providers' investments in upgrading their networks gave them additional bandwidth capacity headroom prior to the pandemic's outbreak and the ensuing stay-at-home policies or outright quarantines that led to remote working and learning.

The report said that U.S. networks have largely moved beyond copper-based DSL access technologies when compared to their global peers. DSL constitutes only 18% of the U.S. fixed-broadband subscriptions versus 50% for the EU, 57% for the EU-4 and 44% for the OECD.

The report also noted that there's been a more heavy-handed regulatory approach for broadband in Europe, while the U.S. service providers have enjoyed a broadband environment dating back to the turn of the century that has encouraged private sector investments in networks.

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