According to a study conducted by UK based network testing firm OpenSignal, Sweden was the first country to introduce an LTE network. Sweden was ranked first place with having the world’s fastest LTE network coming in at 22.1Mbps. The study pointed out that the US was the second country to introduce an LTE network, but is placed eighth in terms of bandwidth provided coming in at a measly 9.6Mbps.
OpenSignal found that LTE networks in Sweden, Denmark, South Korea, Germany, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong all performed better than the US. Tech publication GigaOM mentions that the reason for this could be that most operators in the world were able to acquire 40MHz spectrum.
Operators like Verizon and AT&T in the US could only acquire 20MHz spectrum, which is half the rest of the world is using. In fact, carriers like MetroPCS and Sprint are working with a mere 10MHz spectrum. This means that AT&T and Verizon have half the potential bandwidth other carriers around the world has. This also means that Sprint and MetroPCS are using half of what Verizon and Sprint uses, which means potential bandwidth is even slower with these carriers.
That sort of explains why the US is lagging behind. It is important to note that Sweden does not have as much LTE coverage as the US does though. Although some would argue that that does not matter, hence the saying “quality over quantity.”