In a painful reminder of how bad Americans have it when it comes to wireless service and the price we pay to connect, French broadband provider Free.fr just announced a new plan that comes with unlimited data, voice calls, and text messages for just $25 (or a little less than $20 if you're subscribed to Free.fr's broadband service). On the other end of the scale is the company's $3 per month plan that gives users 60 minutes of talk time and 60 text messages a month. Neither plan requires customers to sign contracts.
Compare that with unlimited plans available from American carriers where it's easy to spend north of $100 to get all the data and voice you need every month. Not only do we pay out the nose for data and voice, but we're left to settle for slow networks operated by corporations that have stacked the regulatory and competitive environment entirely in their favor. Rather than invest in the infrastructure that would allow them to offer users fast, unlimited data and voice for less than the cost of two movie tickets, cellphone companies hoard their cash and delay making upgrades for as long as possible. It's ridiculous that the United States of America can't crack the top 10 countries ranked by broadband access.
Daily Infographic has a great infographic
showing Internet speeds and costs for countries around the world. American consumers pay, on average, $3.33 per month for 1MBPS service. Internet users in Japan pay $0.27 per MBPS, Koreans pay $.45, Swedes $0.63.
Things are equally glum for Americans in terms of connection speed. We're averaging 4.8 MBPS while Japan leads the pack with 61 MBPS, Korea falls next in line with 46 MBPS. France is right behind Sweden at fifth on the list with an average connection speed of 17.6 MBPS.
Imagine a world where very cheap high-speed wireless Internet is ubiquitous; think about the explosion of ideas and applications that would arise from being able to easily tap into the Internet anywhere. The funny thing is that it's likely that telecommunications companies would probably do better in a world defined by cheap and fast everywhere Internet, they're just too frightened to look past the money in front of their faces to see the path to how things should be (fast, cheap and everywhere).