According to Akamai’s Q3 2015 rankings, Austria ranks 25th in the world in terms of Internet speeds, with an average connection speed of 11.4 Mb/s and an average peak connection speed of 44 Mb/s, climbing up four spots from the 29th ranking in 2012.
Out of the approximate 8.5 million people living in Austria, 6.7 million have or have had access to the Internet in recent years, or 81% of the population. Fees for a basic DSL subscription are in the range of $20 to $30 per month.
In spite of this surprisingly high ranking, the Austrian broadband market is still dominated by DSL providers, in direct competition with SDSL, cable or fiber optic providers. To put in contrast, as a general rule, the technology used in DSL connections is much cheaper and therefore much slower than that used in cable connections. To be more precise, while most forms of DSL cannot reach 10 Mbps, cable technology reaches a minimum of 30 Mbps of bandwidth.
The broadband market in Austria is highly fragmented. There are 37 ISPs that constantly compete against each other, but most of them are organized in a local ISP association named the Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA), so some sort of monopoly is ensured from this vantage point. Some of the main Austrian ISPs are Telekom Austria, UPC, Tele2, kabelPlus, and Next Layer. The latter offers fiber optic and data center colocation services to businesses exclusively.
Internet in Austria comes in the form of two main technologies, including dial-up and DSL. Other more advanced technologies such as cable or fiber optic are still relatively unknown to the average Austrian citizen, and considering how the situation has evolved in recent years, things are bound to stay the same. Dial-up is the easiest connection to be found in Austria, with prices starting at around $20 per month; it is also, unsurprisingly, the slowest, but for those who only need to navigate the Internet to read, write or stay in touch with family, there is no need for a better connection. On the other hand, DSL connections, while a little more expensive than the traditional dial-up plans, benefit from considerably higher download speeds but slower upload speeds, but are also slightly less popular and less performant than cable technology. One big advantage of a reasonable DSL technology is that one can also get VoIP included in the basic package.
Austria is part of the European Union, and as with all the other countries that are part of it, it must adopt a liberal position toward the Internet. As such, there are no government restrictions on the Internet or any credible reports that the government would be involved in any sort of invasive monitoring on the people. However, stern laws against copyright infringements and infringers exist and are actively and equally applied to everyone. As of August 2014, several file sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay or isoHunt are banned by IFPI Austria; this procedure has brought with it a lot of criticism, and many websites involved in file sharing have switched from Austrian web hosts to other offshore providers ever since. Compared to the DMCA law found in the United States, local Internet laws are still a long way from being enforced to such an extent.