We’re Number 9! U.S. Slips in Internet Connection Ranking

Here’s something to add to your decline-of-the-empire files: the U.S. is falling further behind in world rankings of average Internet connection speeds.

That’s the verdict from the latest State of the Internet Report by Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM), the Cambridge, MA-based networking company that handles about a third of global Web traffic.

The latest stats cover the first quarter of this year, and they’re not very comforting for American Internet users.

The U.S. dropped one place from the previous quarter, to ninth overall, at 8.6 megabits per second. Sweden now takes eighth place with an average connection speed of 8.9 megabits per second (mobile networks were not included).

That lackluster performance comes even though the U.S. connection speed improved by some 27 percent over the previous year, according to Akamai’s report.

But it wasn’t enough to overtake Internet-speed titans such as Latvia and the Czech Republic. Seriously.

Asia once again led the list, with South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong in the top three spots. Scandinavian nations also were well represented.

There are many reasons for the U.S. to perform poorly against these rivals, of course—a larger population in some cases, and a bigger land mass to contend with. But other countries also often enjoy a more competitive market for service providers—and it shows in these rankings, among others.

In fact, U.S. consumers don’t just have slower speeds than some much smaller countries, they also tend to pay more for those laggardly connections.

It’s a perplexing problem that has led some to call for Internet access to be treated as a public utility, and spurred unexpected competitors like Google to bring super-fast gigabit Internet connections to selected communities through its Google Fiber program.

That kind of competition is welcome, but it isn’t making a dent yet.

Within the U.S., East Coast states dominated the average connection speed rankings, with Vermont, New Hampshire and Delaware taking the top three spots. Utah was the only top-10 state beyond the East Coast.

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