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updated 11/5/2008 6:30:59 PM ET 2008-11-05T23:30:59

Prices for residential high-speed Internet service are down 20 percent globally from the start of the year, according to a British research firm.

The biggest price drop is for DSL broadband over phone lines, with the average monthly price falling from nearly $67 in the first quarter to $53 in the third, according to the analyst firm, Point Topic.

However, little of the decrease has happened in the U.S., where prices have been largely stable and are already lower than the global average. Americans are paying $16 per megabit per second of download speed, far lower than the $46 average in the Middle East and Africa.

However, DSL is cheaper in Europe, and cheaper still in Asia-Pacific, where people are paying $3.80 per megabit.

Cable Internet service used to be cheaper in the U.S. than in Europe, for the same speed. But that situation has reversed, as European operators have raised their speeds while lowering prices. U.S. operators have also raised their speeds, but have kept prices the same, Point Topic said.

Point Topic said broadband by optical fiber, represented in the U.S. mainly by Verizon Communications Inc.'s FiOS service, is actually the cheapest option, if you take into account how fast it is. Total monthly charges are the highest, however, and the price drop from last year was lower than for cable or DSL.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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