Both the US and the European Union saw median internet speeds rise dramatically in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Despite this, the Fair Internet Report found that the increase slowed significantly across the west in 2021.
While both the US and EU continued to make gains, the pace of change was more than cut in half in Europe and fell over 90 per cent in the US, signaling that the trend may not be the “new normal.” As it stands, the US still holds a substantial lead over the European Union in median download speeds at 83 Mbps, more than double the EU’s 38 Mbps.
The US and EU have historically taken different approaches to broadband proliferation, with the former broadly pursuing a policy of broadband deregulation, while the EU has taken a more involved regulatory approach.
Internet infrastructure in Europe and the US is undergoing a generational shift. Although speeds are rising across most of Europe, the US still holds a significant lead in broadband performance.
In our annual analysis of internet speeds across the west, we take a look at how median download speeds a have changed over the past year, and how European countries and the US stack up against each other.
- Median download speeds in the US were twice as fast as in the EU in 2021.
- Median US download speeds more than quadrupled since 2017, with 2020 recording an explosive growth rate of 157.7 per cent year over year.
- Only four European cities – Copenhagen, Stockholm, Bern, and Budapest – had median download speeds faster than the US nationwide median.
- Despite the massive increases seen in 2020, rates of growth fell by more than 90 per cent in the US in 2021 and by half in the EU.
- The EU outpaced US median speed growth in 2021 by 18 per cent.