Media

Internet Speed in U.S. Way Slower Than Rest of World

| by AFL-CIO

The United States continues to lag far behind the world’s other industrialized nations when it comes to Internet speed—and the impact goes far beyond the time it takes your movies or music to download or family videos to upload. It slows the economy and job growth, too.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) third annual Speed Matters survey finds that even at the current rate of improvement, it still would take the United States 15 years to catch up with the global Internet speed leader South Korea, where speeds are four times faster than in the United States.

The average download speed of U.S. Internet connections is 5.1 megabits per second, significantly below the averages of countries like South Korea (20.1 mbps), Japan (16 mbps) and Sweden (12.7 mbps).

CWA President Larry Cohen says new jobs and America’s ability to compete in a high-tech age are directly linked to Internet speed and access.

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Continued job growth, innovation and rural development require high-speed, universal networks…as do advances in tele-medicine, distance learning and new applications being developed every day.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, for every $5 billion invested in broadband infrastructure to create these networks, 97,500 new jobs in the telecommunications, computer and IT sectors will be created.

The Speed Matters Campaign is part of the union’s effort to promote national and state policies for affordable, universal high-speed broadband networks and end the digital divide. During the past year, more than 413,000 people took the campaign’s speed test on their home computers and found that we’re not downloading or uploading much faster than a year ago.

Click here to check out how your state and county compare.

The report found that only 20 percent of users had Internet speeds anywhere near those of South Korea and other top-ranked countries and nearly 20 percent of those taking the speed test didn’t even measure up to the Federal Communications Commission definition of high speed, a slow 768 kilobits per second. Says Cohen:

Every American should have affordable access to high-speed Internet, no matter where they live. This is essential to economic growth and will help maintain our global competitiveness. Unfortunately, fragmented government programs and uneven private-sector responses to build our Internet access have left a digital divide across the country.

For years, the United States was the only industrialized nation without a national broadband policy. But the economic recovery act passed earlier this year includes a provision calling for a national broadband plan by spring 2010 and $7.2 billion in broadband grants for unserved and underserved areas.

Click here for the full report.