East Coast Rules in Broadband, Study Says

States on the East Coast have significantly faster median download speeds than the rest of the country, with the top states doubling or nearly tripling the national median speed, a new study claims.

The study, which was conducted by affordable-broadband advocacy group Speed Matters, found that the nine states with the fastest median download connections are all located on the East Coast. Rhode Island (6.8Mbps) and Delaware (6.7Mbps) have the fastest, and nearly triple the national median download speed of 2.3Mbps. Rounding out the Top 5 states are New Jersey (5.8Mbps), Virginia (5Mbps) and Massachusetts (4.6Mbps).

The states with the slowest median download speeds primarily are located in the Midwestern or Western regions of the United States, including Idaho (1.3Mbps), Wyoming (1.3Mbps), Montana (1.3Mbps) and North Dakota (1.2Mbps); Alaska had the slowest download speed (0.8Mbps). It should be noted, however, that the sample sizes for many of these states was significantly smaller than the sample sizes studied for some of the faster states: North Dakota, for instance, had a sample size of 231 tests, whereas Massachusetts had a sample of 3,821.

Speed Matters, which is a project of the Communication Workers of America, conducted the study between May 2007 and May 2008 by asking users visiting its Web site to test out their connection speed to check how quickly they could download and upload data. In total, nearly 230,000 connections in the United States were tested.

In the end, the study recommended that the United States adopt a national broadband policy with the "initial goal" of building "an infrastructure with enough capacity for 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream by 2010." The study also said the U.S. government should look at branching out its universal service subsidies to help support high-speed Internet adoption.

The divide in Internet connectivity between urban and rural states has been a hot topic in recent months. Because many ISPs have stated consistently that there isn't enough money to be made that would justify expanding their broadband networks to large areas with low population density, many in government have suggested subsidizing rural broadband in the United States.

A report issued earlier this year by content-delivery-network vendor Akamai, for instance, found that there remain significant disparities between urban and rural areas in delivering broadband connectivity in the United States, despite a relatively large number of high broadband connections nationwide. Looking at the data state-by-state, the report found that most of the states with the highest percentages of 5Mbps connections are East Coast states that have large urban areas. Delaware has the highest percentage of 5Mbps connections at 60%, followed by Rhode Island (42%) and New York (36%). Seven states had high broadband connection rates of less than 10%, the report shows, with Hawaii having the lowest percentage at 2.4%.

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