U.S. ranks 28th in Internet speed among industrialized nations, study finds

Delaware has fastest connection in the country, according to telecom union

When it comes to Internet speed, the U.S. remains far down the ladder of industrialized nations, ranking 28th behind leaders South Korea, Japan, Sweden and Holland, according to a study by a labor union for telecommunications workers. [via chicagotribune]

Using data gathered from Speed Matters, a site that promotes greater Internet speeds, the Communications Workers of America compiled a list of broadband speeds in U.S. states and territories and came up with the average speed for the nation -- 5.1 megabits per second. That's a quarter of South Korea's 20.4 megabits and about a third of Japan's 15.8 megabits.

The study also pointed to the relatively slow rate at which the average U.S. broadband speed rose in recent years, gaining only 1.6 megabits since May 2007. That was a much slower increase than was seen in the U.S. states with the fastest speeds.

California, arguably the nation's most high-tech-friendly state, ranked only 11th among the states, well behind the national leaders. Still, the state's 6.6 megabits average put it ahead of where it was two years ago, when it ranked 22nd among states, with barely more than 3 megabits.

Delaware residents enjoy the nation's fastest broadband, at 9.9 megabits, nearly twice the national average, and up more than 5 megabits since 2007.

At the lower end of the speed range, sparsely inhabited states such as Idaho, Alaska and Montana were well below the national average.

Among the study's conclusions is that broadband speed is not equitably distributed throughout the country. If the U.S. wants all its citizens to have access to equally high-speed Internet, the union argues, it will have to invest heavily in telecommunications infrastructure.

Of course, when the U.S. spends some of the $7.2 billion allocated to broadband development in the federal stimulus package, the union's members would benefit from job creation.

"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," union President Larry Cohen said.

The study is not scientific: Some states had far more data points to draw from than others. And in a seemingly arbitrary decision, the study included U.S. territories Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where slow speeds helped to bring down the average, but inexplicably not Guam and American Samoa.

On the other hand, if you've ever tried to check your e-mail in Montana, you know there's some truth to the figures.

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