U.S. Broadband Speeds Still Lacking
The average download Internet speed in the United States between 2007 and 2009 increased by only 1.6 megabits per second (mbps), from 3.5 mbps in 2007 to 5.1 mbps in 2009, according to a new report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
The Speed Matters Speed Test, a project of the CWA, measures the speed of a user’s Internet connection. The 2009 Speed Test found that only 20 percent of those who took the test have Internet speeds in the range of the top ranked countries including South Korea, Japan and Sweden. In addition, 18 percent do not meet the FCC definition for basic broadband as an always-on Internet connection of at least 768 kbps downstream.
The data revealed where a user lives is a good indicator of Internet connection speed. Users who live in a Northeastern or Mid-Atlantic state, are most likely to have a good high-speed Internet options. The fastest five states are: Delaware (9.9 mbps), Rhode Island (9.8 mbps), New Jersey (8.9 mbps), Massachusetts (8.6 mbps) and New York (8.4 mbps).
Users in Southern or Western states are less likely to have access to high-speed Internet. Mississippi (3.7 mbps), South Carolina (3.6 mbps), Arkansas (3.1 mbps), Idaho (2.6 mbps) and Alaska (2.3 mbps) have some of the slowest Internet connection speeds.
Workers of America
“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.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act calls for a national broadband plan by spring 2010 and $7.2 billion in broadband grants for unserved and underserved areas. The CWA says a national plan to improve America’s Internet connections speeds should:
Establish a national policy goal: A reasonable initial goal would be to construct an infrastructure with enough capacity for 10 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 1 mbps upstream by 2010. New benchmarks in succeeding years should expand the number of households capable of sending and receiving multiple channel high-definition video and reach the global standard of 100 mbps.
Encourage Public-Private Partnerships: Successful efforts-like ConnectOhio-to increase America’s Internet speeds and capacity are important. These kinds of efforts are well-suited to assess needs, create state broadband maps and technology plans and share knowledge about successful initiatives. If encouraged, they 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.
“Improving broadband deployment, connection speeds, and adoption will help facilitate job and business growth,” said Cohen.
“By continuing these efforts we can make sure that America benefits from the information age.”