DC Area Gets High Marks for Internet Speeds

By Kim Hart

Cross-posted from Post I.T.

A state-by-state report released today of Internet connection speeds ranked DC, Virginia and Maryland relatively high on the list.

The nationwide median download speed is 2.3 megabits per second. Rhode Island topped the list for the second year in a row at 6.8 mbps, while Internet users wait the longest for downloads in Alaska with speeds of 0.8 mbps. That means that the same file that takes 30 seconds to download in Rhode Island would take more than four minutes if you're logged in from Alaska.

The report is based on data from nearly 230,000 Internet users who took the online Speed Matters Speed Test, a project of the Communications Workers of America. The test measures the last-mile speed of a user's Internet connection. Test results showed a median U.S. download speed of 2.3 megabits per second. By comparison, average download speeds in Japan reach 63 mbps. In South Korea, average download speeds reach 49 mbps. In France, the number is 17 mbps.

Speeds in the Washington region improved this year. Virginia has the fourth-highest download speeds in the country with 5.0 mbps, up from a ranking of 11th in the country last year. Maryland rose to 8th in the country, up from 10th, with 4.0 mbps And the District ranked 16th in the nation, up from 39th, with 2.8 mbps. That's bound to improve now that the District and Verizon have reached a deal to extend its FiOS service into the city.

The Speed Matters test was launched in 2006 to bring attention to the disparities in broadband speeds between states and, more importantly, countries. Broadband penetration in the U.S. has slipped compared to other nations, many tech firms, consumer advocacy groups and some members of Congress have claimed. That could negatively impact the United States' economic standing, they say.

The report points out that 15 percent of the U.S. population still relies on dial-up Internet access.

It is still difficult to tell how many people within these states actually have access to high-speed broadband. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) is one prominent member of Congress who has been pushing the Federal Communications Commission to have more precise data on who can log on, and at what speeds.

By Zachary Goldfarb  |  August 13, 2008; 9:55 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

DSL connection speed in my area (Gaithersburg/Derwood, Maryland) is an absolute disgrace. Not only is the speed (up to 1.5 Mb/s slower than the national average, it is far slower than the average speed in Maryland. Verizon is apparently still using an ancient and decrepit copper network that they inherited from C&P telephone years ago. The price has recently been increased, and the service is really not worth it.
I wish there were an alternative, but they appear to have a monopoly, and there is no sign of FIOS coming.

Posted by: Bruce Coxon | August 13, 2008 12:13 PM

I have cable Internet access through
Comcast, and regularly get speeds above 16Mbps, sometimes bursting as high as 32Mbps. Of course, I'm near Silicon Valley.

The potential for video on demand services is incredible. More and more companies are streaming video content over the Internet. However it is drastically hampered by the country's slow Internet speeds. Even 16Mbps is too slow for streaming full screen, high resolution HD video. I can't image going back to a 2Mbps connection.

Posted by: Rosencrantz | August 13, 2008 2:26 PM

I saw Congress agree to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a telecomm. infrastructure bill for the Washington DC area a year or two ago. I remember thinking that paying ~$30,000 per person for improving communications in that area was rediculously expensive. Nowhere in the world are those types of money's being bantered about per head, except in Washington DC. No wonder we're going broke.

Posted by: KC | August 13, 2008 4:43 PM

In your story, "DC Area Gets High Marks for Internet Speeds (K. Hart, 081308)", download speeds are quoted to be in "megabits per second", but the writer incorrectly uses the lower case "m" when substituting the term, "mbps". "Megabits per second" and "mbps" are NOT equivalent.

According to ISO standards, capital letters are used to denote parameter values greater than "1.00" and lower case letters are used to denote parameter values less than "1.00". See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbps#Megabit_per_second (yes, Wikipedia got it correct here).

So, when your writer (incorrectly) used the term, "mbps", it made reference to US download speeds in millibits per second, or one-thousandth of a bit per second. Gosh, there is nothing more embarrassing than trying to appear as if you knew what you were talking about and then using the incorrect terminology. If you read the techno-centric posts, they understand the correct use, you didn't.

If you are going to write about technology, please be certain you understand and use the correct terminology. And, where was the Editor, who should have trapped this one. Whoops.

And I sure hope you don't pronounce "kilometre" (sic) as "kil-LAH'-metre" as ignorant Americans are wont to do, since the correct pronunciation is "KIL'-o-metre".


Posted by: floobydust | August 14, 2008 12:33 AM

Rather than criticizing the authors grammatical errors why not talk about what the article is saying.
As with everything else in this country there is no reason to do anything in the public interest. No reason to drive technology or upgrade existing systems. Instead of investing in infrastructure Corporate monopolies spend billions to curtail and manipulate available access to the internet, extort tax payer money to fund it, buy politicians to support their interest and all in order to make obscene amounts of money. Why isn't anybody talking about the wireless technologies that could make a corporation like comcast a buggy whip maker rather than a utility that believes everyone in America should pay them a $100 or more a month for the honor of having their wire attached to the back of your home. How much havoc has Comcast and the telecom industry created by trying to come up with a tier system to make themselves the gatekeepers and drive pricing for access. Most people aren't even cognizant of net neutrality and the battle that has been taking place in the FCC over the last few years or the repercussions of it.
Having lived in Korea for two years it is understandable that a country smaller than the state in which I live (Michigan) could afford to upgrade their systems, not to mention an infrastructure that has been for the most part built only in the last 20 years. The real shame should be seen in the way Africa of all places has been able to leapfrog the US by using wireless technologies avoiding the need for billions of miles worth of copper wire, fiber optics and the need for a toll collector at every intersection. Yes the US is vast and that explains some of the disparity, especially in places like Alaska, again wireless takes that out of play. The important facts are being passed over. I sit here with my WiFi connection, don't have cable, don't pay for internet access, and if I were out of range could use my cell phone-because I have no land line telephone either- to connect to the internet. I can even use my laptop to watch cable TV. If this nation made a whole hearted attempt to go wireless we would all benefit. Instead we allow the usual corporate interests to dictate policy and agenda.
Say no to the privatization of the internet, we have already payed for it with our tax dollars why should we have to pay for it again in order to satisfy corporate greed. Say no to net2 and net censorship. The internet was built as a "commons" do not allow the feudal lords to make themselves the owners. It's all about bandwidth and with wireless digital technology it doesn't require a constant re wiring or rebuilding to obtain or upgrade, it can be done "on the fly" and with substantially less cost. that's my pitch, thanks for listening.

Posted by: average joe | August 15, 2008 2:48 AM

I pay $80 per month for a 6mb connection that usually runs around 4mb. I'm in Ohio just north of Dayton. It doesn't seem fair that the US built so much of the Internet and yet we have slower connections that many.

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