Nearly Half US Residents Below Minimum Broadband Standard

  • Bandwidth
  • Broadband Speeds
WASHINGTON --Forty-nine percent of U.S. residents do not have access to Internet speeds that meet the FCC’s minimum broadband standard of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. New research by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) shows that Internet access in the United States has improved little since 2007.

This year’s Speed Matters report by the CWA shows that the median download speed in the United States increased from 2.5 Mbps in 2009 to 3.0 Mbps in 2010. The median upload speed barely increased from 487 Kbps to 595 Kbps. At this rate, it will take the United States 60 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in South Korea, the country with the fastest Internet connections. The United States is falling further and further behind South Korea because improvements are being made at a rapid rate there.

Northeastern states topped the chart again this year, with many western and southern states staying on the bottom. The five fastest states are Delaware (13.4 Mbps), Massachusetts (9.3 Mbps), New Jersey (8.6 Mbps), Maryland (7.6 Mbps) and New York (7.5 Mbps). Among the slowest states were Montana (1.2 Mbps), Wyoming (1.5 Mbps), Arkansas (2.3 Mbps) and Mississippi (2.4 Mbps).

Lack of access to high-speed Internet reflects a persistent digital divide among Americans. In urban and suburban areas, 70 percent of households subscribe to broadband, compared with only 50 percent of rural households. Of Americans who earn more than $75,000 a year, 87 percent subscribe to broadband, while only 45 percent of Americans who earn less than $30,000 subscribe.

The CWA's 2010 report is based on aggregated data from more than 375,000 Internet users who took CWA's online test between June 2009 and August 2010. The test, a full list of 2010 state rankings and a comparison to 2009 rankings can be found at www.speedmatters.org.

“Speed matters on the Internet, enabling innovations in telemedicine, education, economic development, energy conservation and job creation,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “Today's results highlight the need for investment in higher-speed broadband networks to support America's critical applications. That's why moving forward on the National Broadband Plan is our top priority at the FCC.”

“CWA applauds the FCC for its commitment to improving access to high-speed internet in America,” says Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of America. “Improving broadband deployment, connection speeds and adoption will help facilitate job and business growth across the nation.”

CWA joined with the Sierra Club, the NAACP and the FCC at an event in Washington, D.C., to support the timely implementation of the National Broadband Plan. The organization says the National Broadband Plan closely aligns with many of its initiatives, such as supporting 1 Gbps service to schools, libraries and medical facilities and expanding the use of the existing Universal Service Fund subsides to close the digital divide so that low-income and rural families can have access to broadband Internet.

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