Where is the Internet Fastest?

Category: Reference

Are you getting the Internet speeds you’re paying for? How does your state or country stack up against others in terms of average Internet speeds? These are just two of many questions answered by Akamai’s State of the Internet Report for the first quarter of 2014. Read on...

Internet Speeds and Geography

Akamai is one world’s largest content-delivery networks. It stores frequently-accessed Web pages from major news media, download libraries, and other high-traffic Web sites in a myriad of caching servers all over the world. When you request a Web page from one of Akamai’s client’s, your request is first routed to the nearest Akamai server. If what you requested isn’t there (or it's not the latest version), a copy is fetched from the source and delivered to you. It all happens transparently and rapidly, if the Internet is running well. Therefore, Akamai has a great interest in the state of the Internet, and shares its monitoring findings with us.

Among the things that Akamai monitors is “average Internet speed.” Here, we are not talking about the average speed of the connection between you and your ISP, but the average speed of all data flowing through your ISP’s internal network and across ISP boundaries to other ISPs’ networks. It’s the difference between measuring average speeds on interstate trips versus average speeds on local city streets.

Average Internet Speeds by U.S. State

The color-coded map shown here gives average speeds for the USA in Mbps (megabits per second). Red states are slowest; yellow are intermediate; green are fastest. There aren’t many surprises here. (Figures for other countries are shown below.)

The densely-populated Northeast states have the highest average speeds. Virginia is Number One, in fact, primarily due to the heavy presence of bandwidth-gobbling military and government users. The rest of the top five fastest areas are Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia.

The Great Lakes area is pale green, indicating higher-than-average average speeds in those states. Washington State is as green as New York, and Utah is greener than most. California is a bit paler green than one might expect of Silicon Valley’s home State. The sparsely populated Western states and most of the Deep South are below average; Colorado is right in the middle of the pack, ranked 28, with average speed of 9.7 Mbps.

Alaska came in dead last, with average speed of 7.0 Mbps. But Arkansas, Kentucky, Montana, and West Virginia are close to the bottom, all with less than 8.0 Mbps. At least Alaska has a decent excuse -- it's probably harder to install cabling across certain areas of the frozen tundra.

What About the Rest of the World?

So far we've talked about Internet connection speeds in the USA. But if this an Olympic sport, Uncle Sam's team wouldn't even make the top ten, with an average of 10.5 Mbps. South Korea takes the gold medal in average Internet speed, with a very impressive 23.6 Mbps average. Japan, a distant second at 14.6 Mbps takes silver, and Hong Kong gets bronze with 13.3 Mbps. (The global average is 3.9Mbps.) If your home country appears in the Top Ten shown below, give yourself a pat on the back and download a detailed map of the universe to celebrate.

  1. South Korea 23.6 Mbps
  2. Japan 14.6 Mbps
  3. Hong Kong 13.3 Mbps
  4. Switzerland 12.7 Mbps
  5. Netherlands 12.4 Mbps
  6. Latvia 12.0 Mbps
  7. Sweden 11.6 Mbps
  8. Czech Republic 11.2 Mbps
  9. Finland 10.7 Mbps
  10. Ireland 10.7 Mbps

Why Does This Matter?

We've come a long way since the days when a 5 kilobits/second dialup was the best you could get in most places. Now we measure in megabits, and gigabit fiber is starting to roll out in some areas.

But it really doesn’t matter if you have a 40 Mbps connection to your ISP’s router, half a mile away, when most of the trip that data must take between a Web server and you is moving at less than 15 Mbps. The lesson is that if you can save money by buying a lower maximum speed from your ISP, do so. Just make sure it’s at least as fast as your area’s average speed. Take into account multiple simultaneous users in your home or office, too.

You can read the entire Akamai State of the Internet report http://www.akamai.com/dl/akamai/akamai-soti-q114.pdf to see the complete list of U.S. States ranked by average speed, and some other interesting tidbits.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Where is the Internet Fastest?"

Posted by:

David Foster
27 Aug 2014

Bob the information you have in your head is amazing. I file every email you send for future reference.

Posted by:

27 Aug 2014

Hi Bob,

The trouble with all these surveys is that they rely on averages and a heck of a lot of people just don't understand enough Math these days to know what that means.

We buy the cheapest offering of Virgin Media - 50Mbits (getting a good 54 most of the time) because we are in an area that has fibre. BUT in the UK that means we only get 5Mbits upload. A thinly disguised way of preventing torrenting and people using private lines for business.

In North California Aunt Denise suffers with dial-up which is so slow that her connection often aborts before her anti-virus has updated.

There are fast areas and slow areas in most cities and even different sides of the street can vary dramatically.

The 'average speed' debate is really yet another way of ISPs lobbying for subsidies from Government. In Wales our Senedd (assembly) is 'working towards' a superfast Wales with people connected at 'superfast' speeds that are a fraction of what we are getting now - go figure?

I'm sure it's the same in the USA. Interesting but statistically questionable data leading to 'politicians panic' to gain votes bought by cash from your pockets by 'working towards' a superfast USA.

Gawd I'm cynical these days.....


Posted by:

John Young
27 Aug 2014

Hi, This so interesting, for lately my internet speed with Cox cable has been slower. Why are the lower states in USA so much slower than up northern states Bob? South Korea seems to have T-1 or better for their average...Wow!
I'm paying $62.00 a month for about 26 mg download speed, but going from site to site is so slow, 3-10 seconds or longer for full pages to appear...

Posted by:

27 Aug 2014

I am curious how Mexico and Canada figures in your "Rest of the World" statistics. Remember your neighbors?

EDITOR'S NOTE: That's why I gave the link to the report with all the information on various states and countries. :-)

Posted by:

27 Aug 2014

Looks like my home state, Delaware, grabbed the National Silver medal. Currently my FiOS is rated at 50 Mbps and I consistently get 60 Mbps at Speedtest.net. Verizon is even pushing me to upgrade to 75 Mbps, at, of course, more $$$.
I attribute Delaware's good showing due to a strong presence of both Comcast and Verizon here; competition is good! But I also have to say that Verizon stopped it's build-out of FiOS before completing it and Comcast is upgrading in those places where FiOS is.
And Netflex and YouTube are still slow in the evenings!

Posted by:

Jennie Hale
27 Aug 2014

Utah got internet technology money that other western states did not get when they got the 2002 Olympics, so that reporting and broadcasting would not lag. It allowed them to connect the State in innovative ways, and attracted online businesses like Ancestry and EBay. Having companies like these has allowed them to keep up with upgrading the technology.

Posted by:

27 Aug 2014

Here in rural Missouri I have 3Mbps DSL service and am told by CenturyLink that I should be glad to have it. KC and St Louis is all that keeps Missouri out of the deep red like Arkansas. I am a quarter of a mile from the end of cable service in my area and cannot afford satellite. I have friends that are on dialup.

We need something similar to the Rural Electrification Act today to expand service into rural areas to help bring new business into these areas and prevent those already here from relocating due to poor communications resources.

Posted by:

Louis Paul Toscano
27 Aug 2014

Last weekend I just learned that the whole western half of my county does not have cable. Therefore, they only have services that connect through landline telephone jacks - some form of DSL or satellite. Their television comes through either through some DSL package or satellite. Does this study take into account how people connect to the Internet? Until last weekend I never though that there were any regions around me in my State where people could not subscribe to cable.

Posted by:

Eli Marcus
28 Aug 2014

Hi Bob,
Over here in Israel, there are many competing services offering anywhere from 10Mbps to 100Mbps, but the infrastructures for the faster services haven't reached all areas of the country yet. Paradoxically, many of the mobile phone services have surpassed the land-lines in internet speeds, promising 50-100 Mbps, and saying that they will soon reach up to 300Mbps.
I live in downtown Tel Aviv, and currently subscribe at the going "special package rate" which promises me up to 50 Mbps for around $55 a month (we pay the phone company separately for the land line infrastructure and the ISP for the internet service) - but I recently discovered that due to the phone company's lack of proper infrastructure inside the city, I can only connect at 15 Mbps at this time, with a 1 Mbps upload limit.
One of 2 local Cable TV companies is promising me 100Mbps, but they have the absolute worst service record in the country of any commercial service, so I'm afraid to trust them...
On the other hand, I do a radio show at a local college campus that has 50-100 Mbps both in the downlink and the uplink, and I've worked at a local high tech company that already has a Gigabit network...

Posted by:

Lloyd Collins
28 Aug 2014

I still have 5 kilobits/second dialup here in Central Alabama. AT&T says that all of the DSL slots are full in my area. Funny thing is that the line is across the road from me, and I can't get it. Besides, 6 mbps is the max for DSL here.

Posted by:

Martyn B
28 Aug 2014

Although the Uk doesn't appear in your top ten, according to Ofcom the average residential UK broadband speed reached 14.7Mbit/s in May 2013, which would put it second, just ahead of Japan.

Posted by:

28 Aug 2014

Good article, Bob. In looking over the "map", I find that it is really interesting, that the greatest Internet Speeds are mainly in the areas, where Military and Covert Agencies reside!!!

It doesn't surprise me, in the least, that Virginia has the "highest" Internet Speeds, as well as surrounding areas. Almost all of our US Government agencies are in that area or the surrounding areas. Traffic flowing in and out of Washington D.C. alone, has got to be massive!

The real shame in all of this, the average consumer only "sees" the commercials, trying to "woo" them over, to either Comcast, Verizon, AT&T or U-Verse. They simply do NOT get it ... Bottom line, IF, there isn't any fiber optic cabling, in your area ... You can forget the top Internet Speeds. Does that mean, you won't get good Internet Speed??? Heavens no!!! For most of us, we live in areas, where the competition is grueling and these various companies strive to get the most customers.

Bob, I remember those days, of 18 hour downloads with Dial-Up, just trying to get a 50MB download, for upgrading your Windows OS!!! You prayed, that nothing would "stop the download", while, you were sleeping or you would have to start ALL over, again!!! Today, I can download 1GB+ game, in about 5 minutes!!! Awesome, in my book.

I am mighty pleased with my U-Verse Internet. No, I do NOT have the TV portion, of U-Verse. I refuse to let go, of my DirecTV service, that I have had since, October 1998. Yes, I do know that AT&T and DirecTV are merging, and that should be complete, either 2015 or early 2016. What will I do then? I don't know, I am just waiting for what will be "offered", at that time.

I also, remember the days of ONLY getting a TV signal, with an "air" antenna!!! I am really, that old. :)

Posted by:

28 Aug 2014

I live in a small town in South Carolina and we have cable service here. I have 100Mb service and download most times around 110Mb with a DL manager. My cousin lives in Charleston, SC and he only gets 3Mb. Average speed means a lot of people opt for slower speeds due to cost

Posted by:

David Simkin
14 Sep 2014

Hi Bob,
what's the average figures here in Australia?
Whatever that figure, I live in a small town in rural Victoria and receive below-average speed.
The previous federal gov't promised FTTH(fibre-to-the-home) but crashed at the last election in 2013 due to general incompetence.
The new (conservative) gov't has changed the specs to a FTTN model, where the fibre will go only to the Node (or cabinet at the end of the street), and using old copper cabling from there.
Unfortunately, my town isn't even on any published schedule.

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