Rhode Island Tops US Broadband Speeds, Alaska Slowest

Dennis Faas's picture

Rhode Island has the fastest broadband speeds in the United States, but overall the country continues to lag far behind the likes of Japan.

The figures come from a study by the Communication Workers America, which is campaigning for faster access nationwide. Rhode Island had a median speed of 6.8MBps, narrowly pipping Delaware (6.7), with New Jersey (5.8), Virginia (5.0) and Massachusetts (4.6) rounding out the top five.

Alaska was the slowest at 0.8MBps, just below North Dakota (1.16) and Montana (1.32). Wyoming and Idaho also ranked in the bottom five meaning that, aside from Virginia, there was a distinct -- and understandable -- pattern of faster access in more densely populated areas. (Source: cwa-union.org) PDF file.)

CWA president Larry Cohen argues that everyone needs equal access to high-speed Internet, and not just for downloading movies. "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." (Source: pcworld.com)

The results give a nationwide figure of 2.3 MBps, which the CWA claims trails Japan (63), South Korea (49), Finland (21), France (17) and Canada (7.6).

There are a couple of things you should note about the figures.

First, the median is not what most people think of as 'average' (that's known as the mode). Instead it refers to the middle result if you rank everyone in order. For a survey like this, it's probably the fairest method as it avoids the result being skewed by anyone with ridiculously slow or fast access. But there's no guarantee the 'average' figures for other countries were produced in a way that allows a fair comparison.

Secondly, these figures come from people who've voluntarily visited the CWA site to take party in the study by testing their connection. Enough people took part that to give a reliable sample size (229,000 nationwide, split relatively evenly in proportion to each state's size), but there's always the possibility people's motivation for taking part may have affected the results. For example, people frustrated by their low speeds could have been more likely to take part to make their point, while those with high speeds may not have bothered (or could just have been too busy watching YouTube).

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