Japan is the cheapest place for broadband
The OECD has published a large paper looking at the communications industry and one part of the report ranks countries by the price of an entry level broadband connection. The table of thirty countries ranked by the cost of basic broadband connections is shown below:
The BBC News also has a report on this latest OECD report (the OECD report is available as PDF document at www.oecd.org). The research does not take into account bundled deals, such as Talk Talk and Sky where the price of the broadband is inclusive. Japan works out the cheapest at just 11p per Mbps, this is so cheap because of the competition in Japan and availability of high speed VDSL and fibre based services running at up to 100Mbps.
The report does appear to not include the LLU provider Be in its price per Mbps (Mega bits per second) comparisons, as they work out at just £1 per Mbps ($2), rather than the $3.62 in the report. Of course £1 per Mbps assumes you are getting the full rate connection, which with xDSL products is dependent on distance from the exchange, but should apply to all countries still using DSL based technologies.
One thing worth pointing out is that the BBC item could give the impression that 100Mbps or fibre based connections are the standard connection in Finland, Japan, South Korea and Sweden, just as in the UK there are wide variations in services available depending on where you live. The UK does suffer from a lack of services beyond the 24Mbps mark that are affordable for the consumer. The best you can do is ADSL2+ which is available to around 70% of households, with cable broadband from Virgin Media at 20Mbps available to around 45% of households.
In the UK we need to remember that just because the incumbent in the form of BT will not be offering ADSL2+ until 2008, that it has been available to a proportion of the population since September 2005. Providers such as Talk Talk are using ADSL2+ on their LLU connections but are currently capping speeds to 8Mbps, while some such as Bulldog and Sky cap at 16Mbps, UK Online set their cap at 22Mbps and Be are even exploiting ADSL2+ variants to give higher upstream speeds.
Overall the UK does not fair well compared to our European neighbours, though judging a broadband service just on price is not always the best way. Price can be useful in deciding a shortlist of possible providers, but things like whether a provider uses a premium rate number for support calls, what the providers usage policies are like and whether others with the service are happy are very important.