State of the Internet: U.S. Connection Speeds Rank 17th in World

If you think Internet speeds could be faster in the U.S., you’re not imagining things.

The latest rankings of global Internet speeds by digital traffic company Akamai have the U.S. once again absent from the top 10 list of countries with the speediest networks.

The U.S. has fared better in previous editions of these quarterly rankings, which are part of Akamai’s regular “State of the Internet” reports. But smaller countries with faster connections have surged ahead of the U.S. in recent quarters.

Akamai’s latest report covers performance data from the third quarter of 2014.

Asian countries are once again well-represented at the top of the speed lists, led by Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan in the top four spots and Taiwan in the ninth spot.

Note that this ranking measures the average peak Internet connection speed observed in a country, which Akamai considers a more representative measurement of Internet capacity. There is more detailed reading on the company’s methodology at the Akamai blog.

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Akamai said progress on Internet speed was “extremely positive” among the top 10 countries, noting huge spikes for Uruguay and Luxembourg from the previous year, which contributed to the annual increase in global peak average speeds.

The U.S. ranks 17th globally on this measurement, which is shown in the State of the Internet report’s subsequent breakdown of regional speeds. The country’s average peak speed of 48.8 megabits per second, a 35 percent annual improvement, put it second in the Americas behind Uruguay.

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So, what’s contributing to the United States’ lower rankings compared to other countries? It’s a bit complicated, but the country’s relatively huge size is a definite contributor.

It’s relatively easier to deliver a uniformly fast Internet in a smaller nation with fewer people and smaller land mass—which can bring fewer local markets and state-level governments.

Check out the speed rankings for the U.S. states to see what this looks like: each of the 10 fastest states had speeds significantly higher than the country’s overall measurement.

That means Delaware’s 75.7 Mbps speeds, which would rank as the third-best in the world, are weighed down by last-place Arkansas’ speed of 33.1 Mbps (despite a strong annual growth rate of 34 percent).

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Akamai notes positive momentum in efforts to improve local Internet speeds in the U.S., with another round of new improvement projects scattered around the country in the third quarter, including private and public initiatives in places like Austin, TX, Lexington, KY, and Syracuse, NY.

“As the announcements were generally related to local/municipal broadband infrastructure improvements, the related projects won’t have an immediate state-wide impact upon completion, but are part of ongoing initiatives that are becoming more widespread across the country,” the report said.

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