DC Area Gets High Marks for Internet Speeds
By Kim Hart
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.
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