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.
“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.