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Report: U.S. lags behind other nations in broadband speeds

U.S. ranks 16th in deployment, availability of high-speed networks, CWA says

By Linda Rosencrance
June 25, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The U.S. is lagging behind other industrialized nations in the availability and use of high-speed broadband connections, according to a report released today by the Washington-based Communications Workers of America.

The report, based on aggregated data from nearly 80,000 broadband users, found that the median real-time download speed in the U.S. is 1.9Mbit/sec., compared with 61Mbit/sec. in Japan, 45Mbit/sec. in South Korea, 17Mbit/sec. in France and 7Mbit/sec. in Canada.

The report is based on data collected through the speed test at SpeedMatters.org, a CWA project launched last September "to help bridge the digital divide and keep America competitive by encouraging the government to adopt national policies to bring about universal, affordable high speed broadband access for all Americans, no matter where they live." The CWA is a labor union with a membership of more than 700,000 in fields such as telecommunications, media, manufacturing, health care and aviation.

According to the report, the U.S. is 16th in the world in deployment and availability of high-speed networks.

"Speed defines what is possible on the Internet. Speed determines whether we will have the 21st century networks and communications necessary to grow our economy and jobs," said CWA President Larry Cohen, in a statement. "It's clear that other nations -- all of our economic competitors, in fact -- have made the decision to promote true high speed networks. The longer we delay, the more we put our economic growth at risk."

The CWA said it supports many of the provisions in the Broadband Data Improvement Act, a bill introduced in May by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). The legislation would require the collection and evaluation of data on broadband deployment, an upgraded definition of "high speed," and grant programs for states and local communities to conduct their own broadband mapping.

"The first step in an improved broadband policy is ensuring that we have better data on which to build our efforts," Inouye said at the time. "In a digital age, the world will not wait for us. It is imperative that we get our broadband house in order and our communications policy right. But we cannot manage what we do not measure."

The CWA report also ranks individual states based on average Internet download connection speeds. The state with the fastest connection speed is Rhode Island, at 5.011Mbit/sec., followed by Kansas, at 4.167Mbit/sec.; New Jersey, at 3.68Mbit/sec.; New York, at 3.436Mbit/sec.; and Massachusetts, at 3.004Mbit/sec. The states ranking at the bottom are Wyoming, at 1.246Mbit/sec.; Iowa, at 1.262Mbit/sec.; West Virginia, at 1.117Mbit/sec.; South Dakota, at 0.825Mbit/sec; and Alaska, at 0.545Mbit/sec.

That means that it would take 15 seconds to download a 10MB file in Rhode Island and nearly two and a half minutes to download the same file in Alaska, the CWA report found.



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