Study Shows U.S. Falling Further Behind in Internet Speed, Offers Rec's for Advancing Universal Broadband

A nationwide study of Internet connection speeds in the United States reveals little progress over the previous year in the country's median data download speed. At the present rate — a gain of only four-tenths of one megabit per second each year —it will take the U.S. more than one hundred years to catch up with current Internet speeds in Japan.

The national report is based on aggregated data from nearly 230,000 Internet users who took the online Speed Test at Speed, a project of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The Speed Test, which measures the last-mile speed of a user's Internet connection, shows that the median real-time download speed in the U.S. is a mere 2.3 megabits per second (mbps).

"This isn't about how fast someone can download a full-length movie. Speed matters to our economy and our ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace," said Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of America. "Rural development, telemedicine and distance learning all rely on truly high-speed, universal networks."

Speed Matters was launched in September 2006 to help bridge the digital divide and keep America competitive by encouraging Congress—and our next president—to develop and pass a telecommunications policy fit for the 21st century.

"We are the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote universal, high-speed Internet access—and it shows," added Cohen. "Most of our Speed Test users logged on with broadband connections such as DSL, cable modem or fiber. People with dial-up connections didn't take the test because it took them too long, so even these dismal statistics paint a rosier-than-reality picture of connection speeds across the country."

A full list of state rankings is available at 

CWA is advocating for three specific actions to address the situation in the United States:

  1. Passage of Senate bill 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act, to move the U.S. toward a national broadband policy. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a similar measure, the Broadband Census of America Act, to support the collection of data about broadband deployment;
  2. An increase in public-private partnerships, like those in Ohio and Kentucky, that bring together state and local governments, telecommunications companies, schools and libraries to create state broadband maps and technology plans to stimulate demand for and adoption of high-speed broadband access;
  3. Reform of the Universal Service Fund, which worked to put a phone in every home in rural and lower-income communities, to support build-out of broadband infrastructure to underserved communities.

Learn more at Speed