The UK is the most expensive place in the world for fast Internet access, according to a comprehensive new report from Point Topic. The company's DSL Worldwide Directory lists and profiles DSL companies throughout the world and compares prices and the number of people on the service.
Unfortunately, the report has told us exactly what we always feared - that the UK is lagging significantly behind the rest of the world when it comes to fast, always-on Internet access. Not only that but it is also the most expensive in the world. DSL is universally seen as the foundation for the Internet's future, so the news could increase pressure on monster telco BT as well as embarrass the government.
There are 5.6 million people in the world with DSL (all figures up to the end of 2000), of which a pitiful 38,000 live in the UK. That's just 0.7 per cent. The US, Canada and Americas have the largest uptake with 2.9 million, Asia Pacific comes a close second with 2.3 million and Europe comes a poor third with 544,000.
What about comparing the UK with the rest of Europe? We fall behind all the main European countries: Germany (189,000), France (64,000), Italy (72,000) - even Sweden (40,000) and Denmark (50,000). And this despite all the self-aggrandising talk of the UK becoming the e-capital of the world.
How much does it cost average Joe to run DSL? The amortised cost in dollars per month is an eye-opener. Cheapest in the world is Chunghwa in Taiwan for $17.22. Not bad for a 512Kbps line, you have to admit. Bell Canada comes in second at $27.76 - also a bargain. Run down the list and you'll find Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore Telecom offering goods deals. Deutsche Telekom comes in at $47.58. Even further down you'll find France Telecom at $69.49. But right at the very bottom you will find the two UK suppliers. BT, of course, costs $77.19 and Madasafish $80.87.
The DSL report gives the UK its own section in which it essentially pulls together all the facts and controversy surrounding DSL roll-out in the UK. This, unsurprisingly, consists entirely of a rundown on how BT has delayed, blocked, scuppered and over-charged for DSL offerings. This is not news, but it is possibly the first time that the effect of BT's foot-dragging has been made clear in an international context. It is now undeniable that the UK is several leagues behind in fast Internet access.
We should thank Point Topic for releasing this report to us a week early. It will be available to everyone in March and will cost you $395 or £265. Go here for more details. If you are in this industry, we would recommend it as a resource.