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How to turn a world leader into a fourth-rate broadband economy

Filling in the wide open white spaces

The data also confirms that where a customer lives is a good indicator of Internet connection speed. With some exceptions, if you live in a Northeastern or Mid-Atlantic state, you are likely to have good high- speed Internet options.

The fastest Internet connections are in Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York, all of which average 8.4 to 9.9 Mbps. The slowest are likely to be in Mississippi, South Carolina, Arkansas, Idaho, Alaska, which average between 2.3 Mbps and 3.7 Mbps

Speed matters also made some international comparisons, ranking the US 28th in the world in average Internet connection speeds. South Korea is at the top end with 20.4 Mbps, four times faster than the US, which also loses out to Japan at 15.8 Mbps, Sweden at 12.8 Mbps, the Netherlands at 11.0 Mbps, and 24 other countries that have faster broadband.

It also ranks the US 15th behind other industrialized nations in the percentage of the population subscribing to broadband, with countries like Canada, Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden with higher broadband subscription percentages than the US.

The report also reminds the US authorities that millions of Americans don’t have and can’t have high speed internet connections, either because of where they live or because of what they earn.

Around 67% of urban and suburban homes have broadband, but only 46% of rural homes have it. Similarly, 88% of Americans who earn over $100,000 a year get broadband, but just 35% where the home earns less than $20,000 subscribe. Only about 54% of middle-income families earning between $30,000 and $40,000 a year subscribe to broadband.

So the Communications Workers of America has come up with a ten point plan, and has called on the US government to establish a national policy goal for broadband, something that European governments did around 4 years back.

It suggests that the goal is to construct an national infrastructure with enough capacity for 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream by 2010. The policy should also call for a minimum and then rising number of homes that can get 100 Mbps. The next thing is to collect robust and detailed broadband data, rather than leaving it to organizations like Speed Matters, but it accepts that the FCC has improved its broadband data collection program, and federal funds are now available to states to map their broadband infrastructure.

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