Internet speeds slow in US, slower in Vermont

first_imgThe United States has an abysmal international ranking in Internet broadband connectivity speeds and Vermont is even worse. While the US is 25th in the world in average connection speeds, Vermont ranks only 45th in the US. Rural areas here and across the country predictably fare worse than urban and suburban regions.The fourth annual survey reveals an extensive ‘Digital Speed Divide.’ The survey is conducted on behalf of the Communication Workers of America. The trade union represents 700,000 workers in communications, media, airlines, manufacturing, and public service.Its report says that half (49 percent) of US residents’ Internet connections fall below the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) minimum broadband speed standard of 4 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload. This is the minimum speed generally required for using today’s video-rich broadband applications and services, while retaining sufficient capacity for basic web browsing and e-mail.Only 1 percent of US Internet connections meet the FCC’s broadband speed goal for the year 2015 of 50 mbps download and 20 mbps upload.The US has a long way to go to meet the broadband goals set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its 2010 National Broadband Plan. The U.S. has made only limited progress in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet. The median download speed for the nation in 2010 was 3.0 megabits per second (mbps) and the median upload speed was 595 kilobits per second (kbps). (1000 kilobits equal 1 megabit). These speeds are only slightly faster than the 2009 results of 2.5 mbps download and 487 kbps upload. In other words, between 2009 and 2010, the median download speed increased by only 0.5 mbps (from 2.5 mbps to 3.0 mbps), and the average upload speed barely changed at all (from 487 kbps to 595kbps). At this rate, it will take the United States 60 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in South Korea. Moreover, the median upload speed from the survey is far too slow for patient monitoring or transmitting large files such as medical records.The US continues to lag far behind other countries. The United States ranks 25th in the world in average Internet connection speeds. In South Korea, the average download speed is 34.1 mbps, or 10 times faster than the U.S. The U.S. trails Sweden at 22.2 mbps, the Netherlands at 20.7 mbps, Japan at 18 mbps, and even Romania at 20.3 mbps. Moreover, people in other countries have access to much faster networks. More than 90 percent of Japanese households have access to fiber-to-the-home networks capable of 100 mbps or greater in both directions.According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average of advertised speeds offered by broadband providers in Japan was 107.7 mbps and in South Korea was 52.8 mbps. According to the OECD, the United States ranks 24th among industrialized nations in average advertised broadband download speed at 14.6 mbps.Speed makes the promise of the Internet a reality. Too many Americans are locked into slow Internet, foreclosing access to many online applications and services. The FCC minimum broadband standard of 4 mbps downstream and 1 mbps upstream typically delivers enough capacity for video-rich broadband applications and services, while retaining sufficient capacity for basic web browsing and e-mail. But these speeds are not enough to handle advanced applications such as high-definition video streaming. Higher capacity broadband provides enough bandwidth to allow people to send and receive multiple high-definition video channels, large data files, medical diagnostics, or participate in real-time video conferencing. These activities require between 10 and 100 mbps upload and download speed. Fiber-to-the-home networks can deliver at least 100 mbps in both directions.At US median download and upload speeds, it can take half an hour to download, and two-and-one-half hours to upload, an educational video but less than a minute to upload or download on an all-fiber 100 mbps network. Similarly, at US median download and upload speeds, it takes about 13 minutes to download 100 pictures taken on a family vacation and a full hour to upload those same photos. On an all-fiber 100 mbps network, it would take less than 24 seconds to upload or download the full set of pictures.High-speed broadband is the fundamental infrastructure of the 21st century, fueling sustainable economic growth and job creation. It determines whether we will have the 21st century networks we need to create the jobs of the future, develop our economy, and support innovations in telemedicine, education, public safety, energy conservation, and provision of public services to improve our lives and communities. Most U.S. Internet connections are not fast enough in both directions to permit interactive home-based medical monitoring, multi-media distance learning, or to send and receive data to run a home-based business.While the survey focuses on the slow speeds of U.S. broadband connections, there are other issues that the U.S. must address to realize all the benefits of the Internet. Millions of Americans don’t have high-speed Internet. Nearly 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home. An estimated 14 to 24 million of these people do not even have access to broadband.All too many Americans find themselves on the wrong side of a digital divide based on race, income, geography, and age. While 70 percent of urban and suburban households subscribe to broadband, only 50 percent of rural households do. Similarly, whereas 87 percent of Americans who earn over $75,000 a year get broadband, only 45 percent of households that earn less than $30,000 a year subscribe. Only about 67 percent of middle-income families earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year subscribe to broadband. Among non-adopters, one-fifth (21 percent) report that broadband access or a computer is too expensive and another one-fifth (18 percent) say they don’t know how to use the technology.The United States has fallen to 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Countries like South Korea, Japan, Sweden and even Romania have much faster Internet connections than we do. People in Japan can upload a high-definition video in 12 minutes, compared to a grueling 2.5 hours at the U.S. median upload speed. Yet, people in Japan pay about the same as we do in the U.S. for their Internet connection.In March, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its National Broadband Plan. The Plan provides a blueprint to address our nation’s broadband challenges. Congress, the FCC, and other state and federal agencies, working with the private sector, must move forward expeditiously to implement these priority items.The National Broadband Plan estimates that it will cost about $24 billion to provide the subsidies needed to build out broadband networks capable of 4 mbps download and 1 mbps upload to the largely rural areas that currently do not have access to broadband. According to FCC estimates, it will cost $350 billion to build truly high-speed networks capable of 100 mbps to every corner of our nation. Today, universal services subsidies support voice telephony. It is long past time to reform our universal service program to support affordable, high-speed Internet for all. The existing universal service Lifeline and Link-Up programs of subsidies to low-income families for telephone service should be expanded to include subsidy programs for Internet access and equipment, such as computers. The highly successful E-Rate program of subsidies to schools, libraries, and rural health centers provides a model to expand bandwidth capacity to these community anchor institutions.Source: is external) 12.20.2010last_img

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