U.S. Broadband: Still almost as good as Latvia

Via an Akamai report (registration is required to get the report), Latvia has moved up to fifth place in the average bandwidth rankings worldwide. The U.S. is down at number 22, with a net negative drop of about 1% in bandwidth over the last quarter and 2.5% drop in bandwidth over the past year. According to Akamai, the average broadband connection in the U.S. is about 3.8 megabits/second, which would reflect the fact that the cable companies dominate the broadband marketplace in the U.S.

It is worth noting that the FCC just set a new standard for the definition of "broadband," which is 4 megabits down and 1 megabit up. This reflects the continuing focus on broadband as an "entertainment" service (that's what some cable companies call it) rather than a business service. With more people and businesses trying to work out of the home, symmetric bandwidth has become essential to economic development. The continuing acceptance of a bigger pipe into homes and businesses and a much smaller pipe upstream reflects a lack of understanding about business and job needs for broadband services, which need the symmetric bandwidth.

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Well said, Andrew. It is embarrassing that the FCC has their heads in the sand on this critical issue - especially relevant for economic development in rural areas. Fortunately, many communities, including Blacksburg, have set targets for broadband infrastructure that enables what Erv Blythe, VP for Information Technology at Virginia Tech, has called "the producer network". Citizens, businesses, and education institutions need to have the ability to be producers, not just consumers, of network information and services. Design Nine's work with regions and communities has also helped promote awareness of the need for symmetrical bandwidth; we just have to wait for the Feds to catch up ...
Brenda van Gelder
Director, eCorridors Program
Virginia Tech