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Speed Matters New Broadband Study: US Still Lags Behind

24 Aug, 2009

Today, Speed Matters released the third annual report on Internet Speeds in America - and U.S. connection speeds have not improved significantly in the past year. The results of the report are based on the last-mile connection speed of over 413,000 Internet users who took the online test between May 2008 and May 2009.

The report found:

"Between 2007 and 2009, the average download speed in the United States has increased by only 1.6 megabits per second (mbps), from 3.5 mbps in 2007 to 5.1 mbps in 2009. At this rate, it will take the United States 15 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in South Korea, the country with the fastest average Internet connections."

Speed Matters also released a full list of 2009 state rankings and a comparison to the average download and upload speed in 2008.

The state of broadband adoption and deployment in the United States is poor, according to the report:

"Only 20 percent of those who took the test have Internet speeds in the range of the top-ranked countries - South Korea, Japan and Sweden. 18 percent do not even meet the FCC definition for current-generation broadband: an always-on Internet connection of at least 768 kbps downstream.

The data also confirms that where a customer lives is a good indicator of Internet connection speed. With some exceptions, if you live in a Northeastern or Mid-Atlantic state, you are likely to have good high-speed Internet options.

Fastest Internet Connections
Delaware (9.9 mbps)
Rhode Island (9.8 mbps)
New Jersey (8.9 mbps)
Massachusetts (8.6 mbps)
New York (8.4 mbps)

Slowest Internet Connections
Mississippi (3.7 mbps)
South Carolina (3.6 mbps)
Arkansas (3.1 mbps)
Idaho (2.6 mbps)
Alaska (2.3 mbps)

"Every American should have affordable access to high-speed Internet, no matter where they live. This is essential to economic growth and will help maintain our global competitiveness," said Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of America. "Unfortunately, fragmented government programs and uneven private sector responses to build out Internet access have left a digital divide across the country."

In fact, the United States remains the only industrialized country without a national policy to promote high-speed Internet access. This year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set out to change that by calling for a national broadband plan by spring 2010 and providing $7.2 billion in broadband grants for unserved and underserved areas. The FCC is hard at work on the national broadband plan.

CWA believes that in addition to needed infrastructure investment, a national plan to improve America's Internet connection speeds should:

  • Establish a national policy goal: A reasonable initial goal would be to construct an infrastructure with enough capacity for 10 mbps downstream and 1 mbps upstream by 2010. New benchmarks in succeeding years should expand upon initial goals.
  • Encourage Public-Private Partnerships: Public-private partnerships are well-suited to assess needs, create state broadband maps and technology plans and share knowledge about successful initiatives. Such partnerships can help simulate high-speed broadband demand, deployment and adoption nationwide.
  • Reform Universal Service: We need subsidies, low-interest loans, and tax incentives to support broadband deployment in high-cost rural areas, and help make computers and Internet access more affordable for low-income families.
  • Monitor Progress: Broadband public policies should support the growth of good, career jobs as a key to providing quality Internet service and require public reporting of deployment, actual speed, price and customer service benchmarks.

Stay up-to-date with future Speed Matters news, policy briefs, and research updates by signing up for the Speed Matters blog email updates today.

Read the full report here (Speed Matters)

Read the press release (Speed Matters)

2009 State Rankings (Speed Matters)

The Broadband Stimulus (Speed Matters)

Speed Matters blog email updates


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