CIO Symmetry

Aug 13 2008   2:24PM GMT

America fails – miserably – to capture Internet equality medal

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Here’s a shocker: Broadband in the U.S. isn’t up to snuff and because of that our children will fall behind the rest of the world.

So we learn from a new report by speedmatters.org, er, the Communication Workers of America, er, the AFL-CIO.

According to the report, the U.S. is lagging far behind other developed countries in broadband speed. Median download speed for the nation is a measly 2.3 mbps. Compare that to Japan, where the median download speed is apparently 63 mbps. France, for a European example, pulls 17 mbps. Our neighbors to the north aren’t great – 7.6 mbps – but still, that’s better.

Data in the report was compiled by cataloging the results of voluntary upload/download speed tests by users nationwide. The report breaks it down by state. Rhode Island comes out the best, pulling a 6.8 mbps download median. Puerto Rico finishes dead last at a .5 mbps download median. Behind that is Alaska with a .8 mbps median.

The results favor densely populated areas, with rural counties and states dragging the numbers down. This could explain why Japan has done so well.

So take report statements like “At this rate, it will take the United States more than 100 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in Japan” with a block of salt.

Still, it’s hard to argue with what speedmatters.org/CWA/AFL-CIO stands for here: Universal Internet access and an end to the digital divide.

The deck has always been stacked in America. That “haves” and “have-nots” thing is no joke. The Internet is a must-have for any meaningful economic success. Failing to provide quality access to rural and poor children, who have few powerful advocates, will only serve to exacerbate the shameful disenfranchisement.

Meanwhile, our president tells Bob Costas that “I don’t see America having problems” and we’re all supposed to sit back and smile because we’re ahead in the medal count.[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/keN12U2coK8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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  • Rolandwartenberg
    Hi, i couldn't more agree. I am a german citizen. When we moved to US for the first time in 2000 (actually, to Santa Clara in the middle of Silicon Valley) i was fascinated by the speed of the internet connection. Those times we got DSL from our local phone provider, with 1.5 mbps, much higher as what we had at home in Germany. In 2002 we moved back there, and moved again to US in 2006, this time to Cupertino; we actually live a copule of blocks away from Apple's headquarters. And guess which speed we could get from our local phone provider again? 1.5 mbps. Today, in 2008, it's getting better, now having 16 mbps via cable, but compared to what you can get in Europe that is still not the same. And remember: we're not living in the middle of nowhere, this is Silicon Valley what we are talking about. One has to admit that the guys from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc. work a lot on the extension of the network regarding speed etc. but it really looks like US is some years behind compared to Europe or Japan. What can we do tohether to change that? Regards, Roland
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