American broadband isn’t so broad – report

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Washington DC – A new report by the Communications Workers of America says broadband Internet speeds in the United States are lagging years behind other nations.  The median download speed in the U.S. is a pitiful 1.97 megabits per second, which is more than a magnitude slower than other countries and the union wants the government to do something about.

CWA President Larry Cohen says other nations are “years and years” ahead of the United States and claims this speed difference saps the country’s competitive edge.  The average Japanese citizen has a media download speed of 61 megabits, while residents in South Korea have blistering 45 megabit/sec downloads.

The report, which interviewed 80,000 broadband users, also broke down average speeds by state with Rhode Island taking top honors with 5.011 megabit/sec downloads.  Alaska was the slowest state with .545 megabit/sec speeds.  Surprisingly, Kansas took second place.

The union is lobbying for a comprehensive public strategy on high-speed Internet through its “Speed Matters” campaign which will press Congress, state governments and private industry.  Cohen wants median download speeds to hit 10 megabytes per second by 2010.  He also wants upload speeds to increase, saying, “We want people to participate and not just be a spectator.”

Of course the CWA would benefit handsomely from a nationwide broadband policy because its members would be raking in the overtime money by installing new lines, routers and switches.

Some U.S. telecom companies are trying out high-speed broadband installations in select markets.  The most popular seems to be Verizon with their FIOS fiber to home service which boasts speeds of up to 50 megabits/sec.