Think your Internet connection has problems? Barry Ramsay the owner of a small manufacturing company between two mountains in Idaho found that his connection crashed when bears were rubbing up against the towers. In much of the state, connections rely on line of sight, making smog and snow problems for those wanting continuous signals.
Ramsay’s story was captured in this New York Times piece, which focused on challenges with broadband solutions in Idaho. A new study found that Idaho has the slowest Internet speeds in the country at an average of 318 kilobytes per second. Rhode Island, known for the fastest average speeds, enjoys 894 kilobytes per second.
A music file downloaded in Idaho would take 9.42 seconds. Residents in the slowest city, Pocatello, also in Idaho, take nearly 12 seconds to download the same music file. In the fastest city, Andover, Massachusetts, that same music file takes just one second. This data was captured in a study by Pando Networks, a company focused on helping consumers accelerate downloads and leverage true broadband solutions.
This difference in the performance of broadband solutions may seem insignificant; yet the download of larger files can make the delay of seconds turn into crucial minutes or hours. Over time, the result in losses can affect public safety, education and even economic growth.
The study found that 28 percent of households throughout the nation still do not have an Internet connection; the majority of these are in rural areas as adequate broadband solutions do not exist or are too expensive.
On a global level, the U.S. lags in speed. The nation comes in 25th
behind South Korea, which boasts the fastest broadband solutions speeds in the world. Romania even outperforms the U.S.
Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of the Rural Utilities Service and a major advocate of broadband solutions noted that this lagging behind is really about our overall competitiveness in the global market. Without appropriate broadband solutions, especially in rural areas, kids might not reach their full potential. We also can’t expect to be competitive in a global economy.
It appears that Idaho is out for change. There are currently more than 11 federally funded projects underway in the state, at a cost of $25 million, to establish high-speed broadband solutions. Of course, businesses in Idaho can have broadband solutions as fast as anywhere – as long as they are willing to pay for it.
Idaho State Representative John Rusche noted that the state has not been participating in the telecommunications revolution, missing out on key innovations in broadband solutions.
The Pando study evaluated four million actual download speeds of Pando-supported products, including games, antivirus software and television shows. Downloads were examined among residential customers between January and June of this year. The fastest speeds were identified in New England, with the slowest in the mountain west.
The biggest challenge to broadband solutions throughout the nation is the lack of demand for infrastructure in rural areas. Telecom providers are not willing to invest millions to extend the infrastructure to just a few homes. And, residents aren’t always willing to pay the higher cost for broadband solutions, a challenge to progress.
Perhaps it’s time for the federal government to follow through on its commitment to nationwide broadband solutions, supporting the build-out of the infrastructure across urban and rural development. Only then can the U.S. hope to improve its competitive standing in a global market.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Stefanie Mosca