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

7/23/13Follow @curtwoodward

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.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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  • https://secure.flickr.com/photos/jtd12186/ Joshua Dionne

    So, what do you think are some solutions to this? Obviously, more regulation and/or real (ie, nationwide) competition, are a couple that come to mind. But what do you think we should be seeing in QoQ and YoY changes to play catch up, surpass a few others in the top 10?

    I am actually surprised the US is even in the top 10, honestly. What about major ISPs in each country? Does this get that granular?

    • Falcon D. Stormvoice

      America wasn’t in the top ten, a couple of years ago. We weren’t in the top 20. Without more regulation, we went up to 9th. Solutions to what?

  • S. Smith

    Maybe the author of this should leave our declining empire and move to one of the rising empires listed, as slower internet speed in this country is such a life threatening event…I’m sure living in Latvia or South Korea is so much more rewarding.

    • bob@bob12151123.com

      Because those totally arent democratic countries with first world economies and rights.

  • chairde

    Ok boys and girls the world is not ending. There are many things that small countries can do better just because they are small. Now the baseline numbers are not comparable. When we use the mean numbers or average for you math impaired, we are not being fair because they are just not comparable. For example larger countries must have greater extremes in everything. The Internet speed in New York City is not the same as in Death Valley Nevada for many reasons. But the Internet speeds in the Bahamas are not extreme at all for the same reasons. If you have one foot in a bucket of ice and the other foot in a fire then you are on the average comfortable according to the numbers. So any statement derived from these faulty numbers is by definition faulty.

    • Pierce Randall

      Sure, but nobody lives in Death Valley, so it isn’t dragging down average internet speeds.

  • Steve Woit

    Have to take exception with the comment by S. Smith on Latvia. Hope you have a chance to visit there sometime–it’s an amazing place with great, innovative and hard-working people, and great Internet connectivity!

    • PolishKnightUSA

      And pretty women!

  • Alex Murphy

    The landmass of all 8 of these countries COMBINED is probably less than the United States, as well as the population of all 8. Of course extremely rural states (that are larger than most of these countries) aren’t going to have very fast internet. Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    • Pierce Randall

      America has a rate of urbanization comparable to other highly developed economies. Over 80% of the population lives in a metropolitan region. So even if there is a lot of land in the US, most of it is empty, and it probably isn’t dragging down per capita internet speeds too much.

  • RappDapp

    Sometimes man, you jsut have to roll with it.

    GotMy-Anon.tk

  • catacaustic

    You want slow internet with high cost? Come to Australia…

  • Manfred van Os

    Sorry, I thing it will be better I write my comment in the German language.
    Als ich vor zwei Jahren Lettland und natürlich Riga besuchte, da wusste ich noch nicht, dass es für Jedermann öffentlichen Zugriff auf das Internet gibt. Als freier Mitarbeiter einer Tageszeitung hatte ich eine Deutsche Schülergruppe begleitet, die zusammen mit Schülern aus Iecava unter anderem zu Gast bei der Feier der jüdischen Gemeinde in Riga zum 70. Jahrestag der Shoa war. Wir waren natürlich auch an der alten Choralsynagoge, im Wald von Bikernieki und an der Gedenkstätte in Rumbula gewesen, wo so viele schreckliche Verbrechen von den Nazis geschehen. Ich hatte für meine Tageszeitung täglich Berichte zu schreiben und wunderte mich, wie problemlos das auch außerhalb von Riga, wir wohnten im Sportzentrum in Seja, ging. Sehr flott wurden meine Berichte und viele Bilder nach Billerbeck in Nordrhein-Westfalen übertragen. Übrigens, Riga ist eine Weltstadt mit Herz, lebendig, bunt und aber auch voller gegensätze.

  • rulegal

    US problems…carriers, infrastructure, Congress (and the FCC), profit goals and greed, lack of real competition, FCC not providing frequencies to carriers, politics, many rural unpopulated areas

  • windbourne

    I wonder how much of an impact Google is going to make on this?
    I would think that they will have repercussions by next report.

  • Skipper

    Where is Iceland on this list? Would think that country would be number one??

  • bob@bob12151123.com

    Dont tell that to Harry Alford, CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. He claims the american internet is the greatest in the world, where the average speed is 100MBps, and is a massive success story for competition, deregulation, and the free market. He further states that Europe’s internet, in contrast, is a failure due to too much regulation, and that “only 50% of europeans can access even one-third of the speed of what Americans enjoy”.
    http://newsok.com/free-market-system-worked-for-americas-internet/article/3879006

  • Falcon D. Stormvoice

    So we’ve jumped up from 26th place to 9th place in two years, and we need to put a stop to that ascendancy. Makes sense.

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