Nel's New Day

September 18, 2011

U.S. Falls behind Other Countries in Internet Speed

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:08 PM

It’s Sunday evening, and I’m researching my latest topic, Internet speed. (A recent e-mail from a friend inspired the idea.) Like almost everyone else’s experiences in downloading material on my computer, I can sometimes access my searches almost instantly; other times I wait—and wait—and wait.

We in the United States like to think that we’re the best at everything. Actually we’re falling farther and farther behind the rest of the countries in the world. Internet speed is a prime example of this problem. Lithuania has the fastest Internet speed; Latvia is fourth. The United States? We’re 31st. Unless we’ve gotten farther behind since yesterday.

After a federal appeals court ruled a year ago in favor of Comcast because current law gave regulators limited power over Web traffic, Internet services companies were allowed to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver their content faster to users. The lobbyists have done it again. Congress could have made regulations to stop this, but that would mean offending corporations, and Congress hates to do that.

The Federal Communications Commission wanted to require companies to give Web users equal access to all content, even if some of that content is clogging the network. Conservative Republicans oppose giving the FCC more power, on the grounds that Internet providers should be able to decide what services they offer and at what price. The result is companies’ keeping the access speed as slow as they want unless users pay extra. The Obama administration also wanted the FCC to shift billions of dollars in money from a fund to provide phone service in rural areas to one that helps pay for Internet access in those areas. Nope. FCC can’t do that either. Nationally 28 percent of households lack Internet access, most of them in rural areas.

Overall within the states,Montana is the slowest. Maybe because it’s so big? And Virginia, with its proximity to Washington and all those important politicians, is the fastest. Idaho ranks close to the bottom too. The same file that takes one second in Andover (MA) to download requires almost 12 seconds inPocatello. Check this out to find how fast your connection is.

People who don’t have the problem of slow downloads can say that it’s just the kids who want to download music and games who have the problem. Not so. This issue goes into problems of public safety, education, and economic growth. Economic growth is what conservatives say they want. Remember the old saying, “Time is money”? “This is about our overall competitiveness,” said Jonathan Adelstein, the administrator of the federal government’s Rural Utilities Service and a major advocate of broadband. “Without broadband, especially in rural areas, kids might not reach their full potential. And we can’t expect to be competitive in a global economy.”

Not everyone openly agrees with Adelstein. According to Gynii A. Gilliam, executive director for the Bannock Development Corporation, a nonprofit group working for economic growth in the Pocatello area, Allstate Insurance is opening a $22 million call center in Pocatello, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a service center there.

Indeed, speeds for Idaho’s businesses can be as fast as those anywhere. The secret is that customers have to pay for it. Idaho is among the states with the greatest disparity in speeds available in urban areas versus rural areas. Even Gilliam acknowledged that her home service is sluggish. “It feels like it’s moving in slow motion,” she said. “A lot of times I’ll start downloads and not complete them.” She said she was happy as long as she could get e-mail.

That’s limited government. We’re 31. After Moldova and Slovakia and …  At least we’re ahead of Estonia. Bless those anti-regulation people who protect us and give us freedom.


  1. Thanks for this news. Had no idea it was this bad. Does that make us a 31st world country?


    Comment by Lee Lynch — September 18, 2011 @ 9:00 PM | Reply

    • We’re actually worse in some areas!


      Comment by trp2011 — September 19, 2011 @ 4:52 PM | Reply

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