U.S. Broadband “Speed” Remains Contradiction in Terms
IntroductionWASHINGTON: The tubes are still a bit clogged. Since 2007, the
average download Internet speed in the United States has increased by only 1.6 megabits per second, from
3.5 Mbps in 2007 to 5.1 Mbps in 2009. That’s according to research from the
Communications Workers of America. At the current rate of increase, the United States will catch up to Korea’s broadband speeds in 15 years. Korea’s average is nearly 21 Mbps, the fastest among
countries measured by www.Speedtest.net. Japan is next, with
nearly 16 Mbps. Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea beats the United States with
14.6 Mbps. Lithuania, Latvia, Moldovia, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Romania,
Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Germany have the top download speeds
among countries. The United States ranks 27th. (Speedtest estimates the U.S. download rate at 6.8 Mbps.)
The CWA based its findings on data collected from more than 413,000 Internet
users who took its online test between May 2008 and May 2009. The group said
that 20 percent of participants had Internet speeds in the range of the three
fastest countries. Another 18 percent didn’t meet the FCC’s definition of
broadband as an “always-on Internet connection of at least 768 kbps
downstream,” CWA said.
The data also showed lavational discrepancies. Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic
states were fastest. The top five states were Delaware (9.9 Mbps), Rhode Island (9.8 Mbps), New Jersey (8.9 Mbps), Massachusetts (8.6 Mbps) and New York (8.4 Mbps).
Southern and Western states were the most sluggish: Mississippi (3.7 Mbps), South Carolina (3.6 Mbps), Arkansas (3.1 Mbps), Idaho (2.6 Mbps) and Alaska (2.3 Mbps).
CWA said job creation increases with broadband speeds. For every $5 billion
invested in broadband infrastructures, an estimated 97,500 new jobs are created
in the telecom, computer and IT sectors.
Larry Cohen, president of CWA, said universal, fast, affordable broadband is
essential to the nation’s economic growth. The American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act signed into law earlier this year included $7.2 billion in
broadband grants for underserved areas and instructed the FCC to form a
CWA said a reasonable goal would be to build a network capable of handling 10
Mbps download and 1 Mbps uploads speeds. Benchmarks would be established in
successive years to accommodate multiple hi-def TV channels, and reach a global
standard of 100 Mbps.
-- Deborah D. McAdams
(Snail image by BetsyMartian;
abstract image by Spitfirelas)