Hi, I’m in Delaware… For the Fast Internet

Internet speeds are becoming increasingly important to consumer markets, as users of streaming content such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO multiply. Those people are expecting quality streaming, too, especially with the advent of 4K, or “ultra” high-definition, video.

It may be no surprise that broadband Internet speeds vary from state to state, with Virginia, Delaware, and Washington, DC, leading the way with the fastest average connection speeds, according to Akamai’s (NASDAQ:AKAM) most recent “State of the Internet” report. The Cambridge, MA-based company also provides a rating of how prepared each state is to support Internet speeds required to provide 4K screen resolution, which has more than 8 million pixels, or four times the current standard.

Akamai, which published its fourth quarter 2014 report Tuesday, considers broadband speeds of at least 10 to 20 megabits per second necessary to stream video with 4K quality. It measured each state’s 4K readiness based on the percentage of the state that has fast enough speeds to handle the ultra high definition—in essence, speeds above 15 megabits per second.

So, which state is most prepared? Delaware, with 38 percent of it having concentrations of “4K-capable” connectivity. The top five includes Rhode Island and Massachusetts (30 percent), Virginia (28 percent), and Washington, DC (27 percent), according to the report.

Akamai makes it clear that it is not indicating which states can or cannot stream 4K-quality video, merely which ones are most capable of doing it when it becomes possible. The three states with the lowest readiness: Alaska (7 percent), Hawaii (7.2 percent), and Kentucky (7.3 percent).

Average broadband speeds increased across all 50 states and Washington, DC, in the fourth quarter, Akamai said. Still, the fastest average speeds, such as the 17.7 megabit-per-second speed in top-tier Virginia, barely reach the “ultra” high-definition connectivity needs. That may not be too problematic right now, according to one article on CNET, which notes that standard TVs may be too small for such dramatic pixelation.

It’s not just demand from video streamers that’s attracting interest in 4K, though. More people are also seeking higher definition for gaming, and television makers are offering higher-resolution products, such as a $24,999, 77-inch Ultra HD TV made by LG Electronics, as my colleague João-Pierre S. Ruth has reported.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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