While U.S. broadband providers continue to boost speeds for their subscribers, they still are falling behind the broadband deployment efforts of many other nations, according to survey of 230,000 U.S. Internet users.
The survey, conducted by the Communications Workers of America, indicates also that population density can be a factor in providing broadband " Rhode Island, the smallest state geographically in the union, has the fastest median download speed with 6.8 Mbps while Alaska, the largest, has the slowest at 0.8 Mbps. Internet users in the survey took the CWA's Speed Matters Speed Test.
The median download speed in the U.S. is 2.35 Mbps. Densely populated Japan has an eye-popping 63.60 Mbps, according to figures from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
"This isn't about how fast someone can download a full-length movie," said CWA president Larry Cohen in a statement. "Speed matters to our economy and our ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace. Rural development, telemedicine, and distance learning all rely on truly high-speed, universal networks."
States with relatively high population densities led the CWA's survey. The first ranked state was Rhode Island with 6.8 Mbps high broadband speeds followed by Delaware with 6.7 Mbps; New Jersey, 5.8 Mbps; Virginia, 5.0 Mbps; and Massachusetts, 4.6 Mbps. The slowest speeds were recorded by states with large rural populations -- Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and Alaska.
To improve broadband reception in rural and lower-income areas, the CWA and some government and public policy organizations have suggested that the Universal Service Fund be reformed to support build-out of broadband in underserved communities.
The CWA also pointed to public-private partnerships in Ohio and Kentucky as models of state and local governments working with telecommunications companies, schools and libraries to improve broadband delivery. Kentucky's "Prescription for Innovation", launched in the primarily rural state in 2004, boosted broadband adoption in the state by an 83% growth rate compared with the national rate of 57%.
The CWA's Speed Matters project enables individual users to test the speed of their online connections by sending a request to their nearest server to measure the time it takes to receive a response. Survey data is based on tests carried out from May 2007 to May 2008. The CWA said the tests do not measure actual transfer speeds of files over the Internet.