August 12, 2008

Nationwide Study of Real-Time Internet Connection Speeds Shows U.S. Falling Further Behind Other Advanced Nations


Contact: Candice Johnson of the Communications Workers of America, +1-202-434-1347, [email protected]

State-by-state report ranks all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The results of a nationwide study of Internet connection speeds in the United States reveal little progress over the previous year in the country's median data download speed. At the present rate -- with a gain of only four-tenths of one megabit per second -- it will take the U.S. more than one hundred years to catch up with current Internet speeds in Japan.

The national report is based on aggregated data from nearly 230,000 Internet users who took the online Speed Matters Speed Test (, a project of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

The Speed Test, which measures the last-mile speed of a user's Internet connection, shows that the median real-time download speed in the U.S. is a mere 2.3 megabits per second (mbps). The best available estimates show average download speeds in Japan of 63 mbps, in South Korea of 49 mbps and in France of 17 mbps.(1) That means the same multimedia file that takes four minutes to download in South Korea would take nearly an hour and a half to download in the U.S.

"This isn't about how fast someone can download a full-length movie. Speed matters to our economy and our ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace," said Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of America. "Rural development, telemedicine and distance learning all rely on truly high-speed, universal networks."

Speed Matters was launched in September 2006 to help bridge the digital divide and keep America competitive by encouraging Congress - - and our next president -- to develop and pass a telecommunications policy fit for the 21st century.

"We are the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote universal, high-speed Internet access -- and it shows," added Cohen. "Most of our Speed Test users logged on with broadband connections such as DSL, cable modem or fiber. People with dial-up connections didn't take the test because it took them too long, so even these dismal statistics paint a rosier-than-reality picture of connection speeds across the country."

The test results demonstrate the critical need for the Senate to pass S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act, to move the U.S. toward a national broadband policy. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a similar measure, the Broadband Census of America Act, to support the collection of data about broadband deployment.

Recent studies show about 15 percent of Americans still use dial- up to connect to the Internet.

CWA commends the FCC for mandating improvements in data collection and encourages development of policies that address clear gaps in deployment and adoption of broadband.

Important first steps also include:

-- Public-private partnerships, like those in Ohio and Kentucky, that bring together state and local governments, telecommunications companies, schools and libraries to create state broadband maps and technology plans to stimulate demand for and adoption of high-speed broadband access;

-- Reform of the Universal Service Fund(which worked to put a phone in every home in rural and lower-income communities) to support build-out of broadband infrastructure to underserved communities; and

-- Tax and loan incentives.

The Speed Matters report also ranks individual states based on median Internet download speeds. In a hurry? Log in from the five fastest states: Rhode Island (6.8 mbps), Delaware (6.7 mbps), New Jersey (5.8 mbps), Virginia (5.0 mbps) and Massachusetts (4.6 mbps).

Plan ahead in Idaho (1.3 mbps), Wyoming (1.3 mbps), Montana (1.3 mbps), North Dakota (1.2 mbps) and Alaska (0.8 mbps), which round out the bottom five.

To report the real-time connection speed, the Speed Test sends an HTTP request to the nearest server and measures the time that it takes to receive a response. The test does not measure the actual transfer speed of a file over the Internet; uncontrolled variables, such as the content provider's server load and bandwidth, would interfere with accurate data collection. Information included in the report is based on data gathered from May 2007 - May 2008.

About Speed Matters

Launched in September 2006, Speed Matters is a project of the Communications Workers of America. CWA launched Speed Matters to bring attention to the issue of Internet connectivity and to encourage elected officials to implement policies that will guarantee every American access to all of the promises of the Information Age.

About the Communications Workers of America

The Communications Workers of America represents more than 700,000 workers employed in telecommunications, the media, public sector, manufacturing, health care and airlines.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A full list of state rankings is available at


(1) Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, "Explaining International Broadband Leadership," Table 1, May 2008. (http:// Data calculated based on average of advertised speeds offered by several major broadband providers in a given country.

SOURCE Communications Workers of America

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