Broadband Speed Is Increasing, But US is Falling Behind

A fast, reliable Internet connection is imperative for most small and medium businesses. A new study from Akamai suggests that the Internet is getting faster overall, but just how fast varies from one country to the next—or even between different regions within a country.

Akamai gathers data from customers around the world, and analyzes it through its Intelligent Platform analysis tool to produce the quarterly State of the Internet report. The data from the first quarter of 2013 shows a four percent increase in the average global connection speed.

The news for the United States is mixed. Akamai reports an overall increase of nearly 30 percent for the average Internet connection in the US. However, at an average of 8.6Mbps, the United States still fell from eighth to ninth place overall this quarter. That makes the United States about 40 percent slower than the first place nation—South Korea—and leaves the US behind Latvia and the Czech Republic.

As if slower Internet speeds aren’t bad enough for business customers, US broadband also costs more. A study from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) study on the impact of broadband speed and price on small business found that an average business in a metropolitan area spends $115 per month for Internet access, while an average business in a rural area spend $93 per month. The catch for rural businesses is that they’re getting significantly slower Internet speeds for the money.

Verizon and Comcast have been duking it out for faster broadband offerings, but the speed comes at a price. Verizon just introduced a new 500Mbps tier that costs over $300 per month. Google stepped in to raise the bar with trials of 1GB broadband in select cities. Google’s Fiber costs only $70 per month for 1GB broadband—or about one tenth the cost per megabyte as the Verizon or Comcast services. Of course, that only helps if your business is in Kansas City, Austin, or Provo, Utah.

What would that mean for you and your business? A Bloomberg report explains, “Think of it this way: With a dialup connection, backing up 5 gigabytes of data (now the standard free plan offered by many storage companies) would take 20 days. Over a standard (3G) wireless connection, it would take two and a half days. Over a 4G connection it would be more than seven hours, and over a cable DOCSIS 3.0 connection, an hour and a half. With a gigabit fiber-to-the-home connection, it can be done in less than a minute.”

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