High Speed Scandinavia
December 12, 2013 – by Per Christensson
Those of us who live in America are prone to believe that the United States is the world leader in Internet technology. After all, the original infrastructure of the Internet was developed by the United States government. The world's biggest computer and Internet companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook, are all headquartered in the U.S. Yet there is one part of the world that actually beats in the United States in Internet speeds and connectivity – Scandinavia.
I've had the opportunity to visit Scandinavia the past few years and have seen firsthand how advanced these countries are when it comes to Internet access. I visited Sweden, Norway, and Denmark last year and just returned from a trip to Finland, Sweden, and Denmark this year. In each of these countries, Internet access is faster and more widely available than in the U.S.
Part of the reason these countries are so advanced when it comes to the Internet is simply their geographical size. The U.S. has such a large land mass, it takes a long time to implement new telecommunications technologies. The Scandinavian countries also had the advantage of implementing their Internet infrastructure after the United States, so their base level connectivity is faster than ours in the U.S.
While I was impressed with the Internet connectivity in all the Scandinavian countries, no country beats Sweden when it comes to Internet access speeds and free Wi-Fi. I could find a free Wi-Fi connection almost everywhere I went (which is a great benefit when traveling). Most people I talked to have a 100/100 fiber connection for their household Internet access. That means they get symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 Mbps. While these speeds are available in some places in the U.S., it is very expensive and typically only offered to businesses. In Sweden, these speeds are standard for the average household.
It is hard to determine if high-speed Internet access is a cause or effect the high-tech Swedish society. Whatever the case, it is clear Sweden is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. I had a chance to attend DreamHack, the largest LAN party in the world, and was blown away by the computing expertise of the young people that attended.
I'm happy to live in the United States and believe the U.S. is still the world leader when it comes to inventing and standardizing new Internet technologies. However, it seems the Scandinavians embrace these technologies even faster than Americans.