Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it.
Broadband service here is eight to 30 times as fast as in the United States -- and considerably cheaper. Japan has the world's fastest Internet connections, delivering more data at a lower cost than anywhere else, recent studies show.
Accelerating broadband speed in this country -- as well as in South Korea and much of Europe -- is pushing open doors to Internet innovation that are likely to remain closed for years to come in much of the United States.
The speed advantage allows the Japanese to watch broadcast-quality, full-screen television over the Internet, an experience that mocks the grainy, wallet-size images Americans endure.
Ultra-high-speed applications are being rolled out for low-cost, high-definition teleconferencing, for telemedicine -- which allows urban doctors to diagnose diseases from a distance -- and for advanced telecommuting to help Japan meet its goal of doubling the number of people who work from home by 2010.
"For now and for at least the short term, these applications will be cheaper and probably better in Japan," said Robert Pepper, senior managing director of global technology policy at Cisco Systems, the networking giant.
There's a depressing chart that shows Japan enjoys a median download speed of 61 mpbs, followed by South Korea with 46 mbps. Of the countries listed, the US had a paltry 2 mbps median download speed.