Report on Internet Connection Speed Shows U.S. Far Behind Other Industrialized Nations

"The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote universal, high-speed Internet access."

by / June 27, 2007

Results released today of the first-ever state-by-state report on Internet connection speed reveal that the United States is falling far behind other industrialized nations. The report, based on aggregated data from nearly 80,000 users, shows that the median real-time download speed in the U.S. is a mere 1.9 megabits per second (mbps). The best available estimates show average download speeds in Japan of 61 mbps, in South Korea of 45 mbps, in France of 17 mbps and in Canada of 7 mbps.

The national report is based on data collected through the Speed Test at SpeedMatters.org, a project of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). While the Speed Test was made available to all users, more than 95 percent connected to the Internet with DSL or cable broadband. Data, therefore, is largely representative of "high speed" access in America. SpeedMatters.org was launched in September 2006 to help bridge the digital divide and keep America competitive by encouraging Congress to pass a telecommunications policy fit for the 21st century.

"The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote universal, high-speed Internet access," said Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of America. "The grim results of the CWA Speed Test illustrate that, without a national policy, we risk losing our competitive edge in today's global economy -- and the jobs that go with it."

CWA supports many of the provisions in Senate bill S1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act recently introduced by Sen. Daniel Inouye and currently under review in the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The legislation would require collection and evaluation of data on broadband deployment, an upgraded definition of "high speed" that fits with ever-evolving technology, and grant programs for states and local communities to conduct their own broadband mapping.

"The first step to informed policy is good data," added Cohen. "Sound data will help policymakers establish the affordability of Internet services, identify which communities are being left behind and determine where to target policy solutions."

The report also ranks individual states based on median Internet connection speeds. The speediest states?  Rhode Island (5.011 mbps), Kansas (4.167 mbps), New Jersey (3.68 mbps), New York (3.436 mbps) and Massachusetts (3.004 mbps).

Iowa (1.262 mbps), Wyoming (1.246 mbps), West Virginia (1.117 mbps), South Dakota (0.825 mbps) and Alaska (0.545) make up the bottom five. The same 10 megabyte (MB) file that takes 15 seconds to download in Rhode Island would take nearly two and a half minutes to download in Alaska.

"The benefits of true broadband access for communities across the country are innumerable. From e-government and distance learning to telemedicine and public safety, high-speed Internet access for all Americans -- from the rural plains to the inner cities -- is essential to improving the quality our economic, civic and personal lives," said Cohen.