U.S. slips to 9th in Internet speed

FCC execs ponder the state of the U.S. internet.

FCC execs ponder the state of the U.S. Internet.

If you remember the sad screech of a modem, you know Internet speed has come a long way.

Nowadays, instead of posting text messages to bulletin board systems by using expensive computers ($3,000), Americans are streaming gigabytes of movies and other video to relatively cheap smartphones ($200).

Despite the advances, a new study suggests the U.S. is losing the race for Internet speed.

Akamai, a U.S. company that serves about 20 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, in its 2013 “State of the Internet” report, says America’s Internet speed has slipped to 9th from 8th. Latvia, the home country of Doctor Doom, is ranked 6th and probably plotting a way to destroy the Fantastic Four even now.

The Top 10 countries? South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Netherlands, Latvia, Czech Republic, Sweden, U.S., Denmark.

South Korea’s average connection speed in early 2013 was 14.1 megabits per second. The U.S. average is 8.6 Mbps. The global average is 3.1 Mbps.

How fast is your connection? Comcast offers Internet service ranging from 3 to 105 Mbps at my address, but advertised prices are not reality. In my experience, the 6 Mbps level is enough to stream Netflix in the living room while a socially awkward cousin plays an online game on the basement PC.

The Huffington Post points Americans pay more for slower service than our online pals in Asia and Europe.

Verizon’s fastest service (the fabled 500 Mbps FiOS) goes for $310 a month, but is not available in Atlanta. Comcast’s fastest U.S. service (also not available here) is 305 Mbps for $320 a month.

Folks in Hong Kong pay $25 a month for service as fast as Verizon’s FiOS. In South Korea, 500 Mbps will set you back $30. Closer to home, $30 can get you Comcast’s 3 Mbps service.

In the U.S., Google has set up shop in Kansas City and offers a mind-blowing 1000 Mbps for $70. Plans are to expand Google fiber to Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah.

Why is the more typical U.S. Internet service considered slow?

You will notice that a lot of the countries that have the best service are small. The largest in that bunch, Sweden, is the only one larger than the state of Georgia, and Sweden is so cold everyone huddles in large cities warmed by humming Internet servers and vodka.

The U.S., meanwhile, is about the same size as all of Europe, and has a significant population living in rural areas miles (and years) away from high-speed Internet service.

And I am sure there are other reasons.

23 comments Add your comment


July 25th, 2013
8:41 am

Don’t worry! Obozo, the democrats and other socialist liberals will come up with a taxpayer funded scheme to insure everyone has access to their Constitutional right to ultra high speed internet!

Ken G

July 25th, 2013
8:44 am

Does the author have any idea what he is talking about? Where do you buy a $3000 dollar desktop, that’s what they cost in 1990. Now, less than $500 for a premium machine. And why are you attacking certain internet providers? The ones you have identified as slow or overpriced are actually the best, in my opinion with experience. I think you read too many comic books.


July 25th, 2013
8:45 am

You do not know what you are talking about. Comcast offers up to 200 Mbps download speeds in The greater Atlanta area. Moreover Comcast has been offering 100 Mbps download speeds for almost 18 months.

George Mathis

July 25th, 2013
8:46 am

The cost of the PC is indeed from the 1990s. And I have a receipt so I know what I am talking about.

Ken G

July 25th, 2013
8:49 am

Ok, you just didn’t write it in a way that I could read and understand, about the price of a device. I was reluctant to name names, but I must say, Comcast is excellent and very high speed.


July 25th, 2013
8:49 am

@ zeke – wow, talk about looking for something that’s not there. I’m still amazed by the losers who sit around waiting for ANY article to post so that they can make a snarky Obama comment. Exciting lives, indeed.


July 25th, 2013
8:50 am

Are you a troll Ken G? He was making a reference to posting on ancient bulletin boards with ancient desktops. Also, Zeke, I believe they started that project in 2008 with the economic stimulus package.


July 25th, 2013
8:51 am

Sorry it was the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act $7.2 billion for complete broadband and wireless Internet access

George Mathis

July 25th, 2013
8:51 am

According to the Comcast site, my address can receive speeds up to 105 Mbps, so I’ve updated the column.


July 25th, 2013
8:53 am

Also, I’d like to point out to the author that Chattanooga’s EPB offers 1gb service. It’s why it’s becoming known as the gig city.


July 25th, 2013
9:00 am

Dr. Doom was from Latveria, not the real counrty Latvia, you brain surgeon…


July 25th, 2013
10:05 am

Do any of you actually know how to comprehend the subject of an article? It’s about the overall average speed of internet access, not about where you can get large amounts of access. Sure Chattanooga offers 1gb access, but how much does that access cost. Obviously you need to go back and give a good smack to your language arts teachers for not teaching you how to read, think, and comprehend before you make comments. This is coming from a science teacher. I wonder why so many of my students struggle in science simply because they don’t know how to comprehend what they’re reading. The best part if that these articles are written on a sixth grade level but let’s just degrade the conversation by blaming liberals for the problems with education when we all know it’s a team effort by the entire political spectrum to control the population.

Don't Tread

July 25th, 2013
10:24 am

Quick! Someone call Al Gore! The “Father Of The Internet” can fix it!

Ivan Cohen

July 25th, 2013
10:48 am

Does the U.S. have to be number 1 in everything? Daggumitt, it’s the internet, not an Olympic event.


July 25th, 2013
10:50 am

This whole thing is part of a larger scam from our government. Mr .Mathis, let me be the first to point out that the size of the country is not the determining factor. The issue is whether or not the providers show the need to have greater broadband speeds, most of the decisions are controlled by AT&T. They have the biggest lobby. Also, the US government subsidized the overhaul of broadband before, investing over $100 billion since 2000. However, all of this money was siphoned to AT&T, Verizon and others to pad their pockets and claim better network speeds. BTW, the internet speeds in Europe are 3-5x faster, around 30-40 mbps.

Loose Lips

July 25th, 2013
10:56 am

@mad_russian – Please forgive my improper language skills in the following: (I am on my lunch break and don’t have time to analyze exactly what I am writing here – so the English Gestapo (such as yourself) will not beat me up too badly)).
The one of the issues that the author of the article above highlighted was the fact that we (US) are paying an enormous amount of money for internet service that’s not nearly as fast as our counterparts overseas.
Why are we paying so much?
1. The cable companies “own” the actual cables that transmit the internet signals across our fine nation.
2. Overseas the cable companies don’t own the cables and there’s a lot of competition (of course this drives the prices down (oh wait – is that a free market concept (go figure)).
3. Our cable companies can charge us whatever the H*%$ they want – why because they know we are stupid enough to pay it and the fact that our govt. is not going to regulate the prices.
It’s a free market? – ok if you say so…
Either way slow and expensive is what we have to deal with – it is what it is…..


July 25th, 2013
11:01 am

The key word is “up to”, so what if they say up to 1000 MBPS if you average speed is 8 MBPS. For me to get top tier speed I have to wait till 3am so that everyone is sleep and doesn’t use their internet but then I can only get it for the first 10 – 20 secs.


July 25th, 2013
11:18 am

It’s possible to pay $3000.00 for a “loaded” iMac. I guess that qualifies as a desktop computer.


July 25th, 2013
11:19 am

Anything is better than the old modem. I don’t know how people use the internet without DSL, Cable, or Satellite at this point in the game. It must be horrible. Websites have set up pages now where when you scroll down, you trigger additional downloads/photos. FaceBook is the worst, almost locking up my computer everytime I scroll down. If websites would opt for minimal downloads, the problem wouldn’t be so bad; in other words, you wouldn’t need ultra high internet speeds to be able to use the internet with ease. For the above posters above, it doesn’t have anything to do with the subject of the above article, but since you mentioned it, yes, PBO and everyone who votes that way are complete idiots, the understatement of the century…

Loose Lips

July 25th, 2013
11:22 am

Danny – you are right on point…

No competition = high internet prices + slow internet service

Mad can you add 1 – 1 = 0

We loose in the game – but as I stated earlier “it is what it is.”

engineer guy

July 25th, 2013
9:49 pm

Speed ranking is based on density. In our densely populated areas our average internet speeds are high. Factor in Wyoming and our average goes down. Want to service Appalachia with 10gig? Help yourself, you’ll go bankrupt quickly unless a commie scheme funds you. If we’re #9 with our expensive low density areas the usa is doing quite well. Go ahead and move to Latvia if you want.

(the other) Rodney

July 26th, 2013
7:11 am

I’m a work from home internet user, so I pay for the fastest speeds I can get and although I have very few complaints about Comcast’s service, to hear that other countries pay almost 1/3 of the price for the same speeds (or higher?) is beyond the pale …

Brian Webster

July 31st, 2013
12:44 pm

The report Akamai publishes differs in results from those of Oookla http://www.netindex.com/download/2,1/United-States/. They show the US 18.12 meg download for the month of July ranking them as 18th according to their data. The reality is many people will see a peak at 25 meg due to the fact they rely on wireless to connect their devices in the home. Most of the device radios will have a hard time delivering speeds above that. I have a 50 meg connection to my home and my wired workstations are the only devices that can consistently get those speeds. My router just does not have the horsepower to push that much data over wireless and the radios in things like my IPad, Android phone or smart DVD player just aren’t all that great. More expensive routers with MIMO technology will need to be purchased for the consumers to get the maximum performance of their connection should they upgrade. With regard to pricing, I just co-authored a study for the state of Illinois about broadband pricing/speeds which can be viewed here http://www.broadbandillinois.org/news/292