The Internet's history began in the United States, where Americans had the best access to the Internet's resources for several years. According to technology experts like S. Derek Turner, as more countries began to link to the Internet, a strange thing happened. The United States began to lose its dominant position as world leader of Internet access. Other countries began to support Internet access more effectively than the country that invented it.
But other sources disagree, arguing that the United States is still a leader both as a content provider on the Internet itself and in giving citizens the access they need. What do these different perspectives mean?
Much of the reason has to do with the way Internet access is measured. Is it measured by each country's physical Internet resources? Or do you measure it according to the number of citizens who have Internet access out of the overall population? One company's method was to simply survey a sample of the population of different countries by asking each interviewee if he or she had accessed the Internet over the last month.
In this article, we'll use the same approach as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD compares each country's number of broadband subscribers against the size of the overall population. Why use this method? Because looking at the number of subscribers alone doesn't tell us enough information. Let's compare and contrast the United States with China.
According to the OECD, the United States has more than 77 million broadband subscribers [source: OECD]. The United States Census Bureau calculates the population of the country at more than 305 million people [source: U.S. Census Bureau]. China, on the other hand, has 83.4 million broadband subscribers and a population of more than 1.3 billion people [source: Internet World Stats]. If we just look at the number of subscribers, China is ahead of the United States. But, if we factor in the number of subscribers against the entire population, we get a completely different picture. The percentage of the population in the U.S. with a broadband subscription is 25 percent, but in China, it's 6.2 percent.
Let's take a look at the world at large and find out which countries have the strongest broadband networks.