> the simple truth is that it's far easier to wire a small country than it
> is to wire a large county.
Sweden may only be 5% of the US, but it's still larger than any US state but Texas and Alaska. In a more fair country-to-country comparison, Sweden is larger than for example Germany, Italy and the United Kingdoms.
> If you have a high population density you also have the ability to
> spread the cost of doing so across many more people.
Well, Sweden has 20.6 residents/km², while US has 33.7 residents/km², so obviously US should have much better Internet connection than Sweden...
> and frankly, it helps to be late to the party as you only have to
> implement the latest and best technology, not each generation as it
> is developed (never mind paying the cost of the development)
Well, the Swedish broadband infrastructure project began back in 1998, and for the last few years people have started to complain that next-to-nothing have happened for over 5 years. While most of Sweden have been upgraded to ethernet, fiber or cable connections over the years, 35% of all Swedish households are still limited to the previous generation broadband access, because the goverment stopped subsidizing broadband infrastructure projects once ADSL was deployed everywhere (well, 99.91% of households) back in 2005.
Yes, ADSL is considered previous generation broadband access in Sweden, even though base stations have been upgraded to support 24/1 Mbps compared to the 8/1 Mbps that was common in 2005.
The current generation of broadband access (usually an ethernet jack, sometimes a cable-tv modem) started to roll out in 2000, but wasn't common until 2005, when it reached 40% coverage. Today that figure is 65%. Personally, I got a "real" broadband connection in 2002, albeit back then the speed was only 10/2 Mbps and it cost $28 per month. I got my current 100/10 Mbps connection when I moved in 2004, though at the time it was quite expensive at $45 per month.
> I live in the greater Los Angeles area, but out around the edge of it.
> I pay $130/month for 1.5Mb down/768Kb up. I could upgrade to an ethernet
> connection up to 5Mb, but then it would cost me $100 per Mb.
Poor soul, for that kind of money ($126) I could get 250/100 Mbps. Of course, that is because I live in an apartment complex in the middle of a medium-sized town. Most rural residents can't get anything better than ADSL at 24/1 Mbps, and will have to pay $49 to get even that much.
> I'm assuming that your system has some tax money included in it
Well, 2002 through 2005 the government subsidized about half the cost of all broadband infrastructure project, but since then they have only subsidized rural broadband projects, and usually only in the form of targeted low interest loans.