Not That Fast

Study shows Fastest, Slowest Web Speeds
by: Jerry Liao

Was there a time you felt that your Internet connection was a bit slow? We as users tend to blame, first, ourselves for the slow connection; we attribute it to viruses, malwares, faulty phone lines and a lot more. Rarely do we blame our Internet connection service providers – be it dial-up or broadband. In case you’re not aware – our local telecommunications providers connect to international providers as well to enable us users to connect to international sites.

The workflow is like this: in case you’re visiting a local site, then you simply will use a network that is local. But if you are visiting international sites or sites that are hosted outside the Philippines then you will be using international connections to be able to access that site. Of course all these are happening in the background and are transparent to the user.

In other words, slow Internet connections can be attributed to different factors – 1. viruses/malwares; 2. faulty or dirty phone lines; 3. ISP problems; and last but not the least, 4. international provider problems or slow connections. Why am I bringing this up?

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) recently released the results of the first-ever, state-by-state report on Internet connection speed and it reveals that the United States is falling far behind other industrialized nations. The report, based on aggregated data from nearly 70,000 users, shows that the median real-time download speed in the U.S. is a mere 1.9 megabits per second (mbps). The best available estimates show average download speeds in Japan of 61 mbps, in South Korea of 45 mbps, in France of 17 mbps and in Canada of 7 mbps.

The national report is based on data collected through the Speed Test at SpeedMatters.org (www.speedmatters.org), a project of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). While the Speed Test was made available to all users, more than 95 percent connected to the Internet with DSL or cable broadband. Data, therefore, is largely representative of “high speed” access in America. SpeedMatters.org was launched in September 2006 to help bridge the digital divide and keep America competitive by encouraging Congress to pass a telecommunications policy fit for the 21st century.

“The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote universal, high-speed Internet access,” said Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of America. “The grim results of the CWA Speed Test illustrate that, without a national policy, we risk losing our competitive edge in today’s global economy—and the jobs that go with it.”

CWA supports many of the provisions in Senate bill S1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act recently introduced by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and currently under review in the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The legislation would require collection and evaluation of data on broadband deployment, an upgraded definition of “high speed” that fits with ever-evolving technology, and grant programs for states and local communities to conduct their own broadband mapping.

“The first step to informed policy is good data,” added Cohen. “Sound data will help policymakers establish the affordability of Internet services, identify which communities are being left behind and determine where to target policy solutions.”

The report also ranks individual states based on median Internet connection speeds. The speediest states? Rhode Island (5.011 mbps), Kansas (4.167 mbps), New Jersey (3.68 mbps), New York (3.436 mbps) and Massachusetts (3.004 mbps).

Iowa (1.262 mbps), Wyoming (1.246 mbps), West Virginia (1.117 mbps), South Dakota (0.825 mbps) and Alaska (0.545) make up the bottom five. The same 10 megabyte (MB) file that takes 15 seconds to download in Rhode Island would take nearly two and a half minutes to download in Alaska. A full list of state rankings is available at http://www.speedmatters.org

“The benefits of true broadband access for communities across the country are innumerable. From e-government and distance learning to telemedicine and public safety, high-speed Internet access for all Americans—from the rural plains to the inner cities—is essential to improving the quality our economic, civic and personal lives,” said Cohen.

Now again, why am I sharing this report with you? It is because most of our local Internet access service providers are connected to the United States of America. And I believe that part of their responsibility is to make sure their partners are providing the needed bandwidth to address the needs of their local markets.

To my dear readers, the next time you subscribe to an Internet service provider, check who their partners are. Ask them their GUARANTEED bandwidth or throughput. Don’t believe those ads that they will provide you with how many hundreds of KBPS (kilobits per second) speed for a few pesos – ask them the GUARANTEED bandwidth. Why? Because what you’re paying now (those one or two thousand peso a month plans) are shared bandwidth. The more users who will subscribe to their service – the slower your Internet connection will be.

*****

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