Map of the Day: Average Broadband Speeds


While Virginians beat themselves up over Medicaid expansion, slow economic growth and the McDonnell corruption trial, here’s a morsel of good news: According to Akamai’s latest “State of the Internet” report, Virginia has the highest average broadband speeds of any state in the nation — 13.7 Mbps (megabytes per second). That’s world-class, exceeded only by the average speed in South Korea and Japan. When it comes to the most important infrastructure of the knowledge economy, we’re in good shape.

global_connection_speedsThe news is not so good for the nation as a whole. Broadband penetration and speeds lag in many parts of the country. As a nation, the United States doesn’t even rank in the Top 10 nations for average broadband speed.

Also, there’s no way of telling how evenly those great speeds are distributed around the commonwealth. I’d guess that the statewide average is powered by phenomenal speeds in Northern Virginia, location of a ginormous percentage of the world’s Internet traffic. The region is laced with fiber-optic cable lines and studded with server farms.

Here in Henrico County, I’m served by Comcast (having just switched from Verizon FiOS). When I conducted an XFINITY speed test, my download speed was 121.15 Mbps while my upload speed was a lame 11.77 Mbps. Averaging the two numbers, that sounds awesome compared to the national average, but I don’t know if I’m comparing apples with oranges. (I can’t believe I’m four or five times faster than the national average.)

If you understand the technical issues, you can read Akamai’s notes on its methodology for calculating broadband speeds here. Take the EXFINITY speed test yourself (I don’t think you need to subscribe to Comcast). I’d be interested in hearing what others are experiencing.

(Hat tip: Larry Gross)


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18 responses to “Map of the Day: Average Broadband Speeds”

  1. don’t use the company’s speed test that you get cable from!

    use something like (which only goes to 100).

    keep in mind also – that your provider often “knows” when you
    are running a speed test and turn off their “throttle” … if they have it on -and from what I understand – they can and they do – and it’s in the terms of service.

    but this is more than “good news” for Virginia.

    As the military slows down- Virginia has excellent opportunities to attract all kinds of companies that need good connectivity.

    this also gives Virginia a big leg up on distance learning and helping it’s rural residents get access to the kinds of knowledge and education that can get them a better job or even a job.

  2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Verizon Fios – download 58.47 Mbps – upload 65.95 Mbps – server located in Reston. I subscribe to a 50/50 Mbps plan. So I appear to be receiving what I am paying for, at least in terms of Internet speed.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      On download 58.47 Mbps – upload 64.07 Mbps

      1. good.. trust but verify!

        but Bacon was reporting speeds over 100 mbytes and the speed tests I’ve see don’t even have meters that show more than 100…

        58 – is pretty darn good…

        I’m getting 52 with Verizon, some days 60 or better.

        My cable bill is MORE than my electric bill. HOw about you?

  3. I get near-identical results using Speedtest.

  4. Brian Devine Avatar
    Brian Devine

    We really need a map showing the different speeds across Virginia. While speeds may be great in nova, I can’t imagine anywhere, outside of a college town like Blacksburg, that the speeds in southwest come close to comparing.

    1. Brian:

      This tends to bear out your hunch:

      1. at first I thought it was a cool map but then I looked at Charlottesville and something is not right.

  5. they DO throttle.. though.. in fact.. I got something not too long ago that said they do have a limit and if you go over it – they’ll slow you down til the next period.

    It’s no secret that Comcast and Verizon want to charge companies like netflix and gamers for higher speeds…

  6. I have never completely trusted those speed tests.

    Find some interesting video on the internet and watch it. For me, that would be technology presentations from YouTube. For others of you …. well, maybe something else.

    If you can view streaming video from a variety of sources without pixellation, you are in good shape.

  7. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Charging based on private line capacity/speed is nothing new. It’s been going on since at least the 1960s. It’s consistent with market forces and operating costs.

    But I don’t see economic justification for throttling based on a running total of capacity used in a month. Private line transmission costs simply are not cumulative in nature.

    1. that’s their sanction but what they are trying to do is the same thing that HOT lanes does – it’s not just the total daily traffic – it’s the congestion at certain times that take all the available capacity.

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Larry, you are certainly correct that carriers need sufficient capacity to handle busy hour demand. But with a deeply deployed fiber optic network, such as FiOS, and massive fiber distribution rings, those problems are much smaller than they used to be. With a fiber connection and multi-color lasers, there is essentially no capacity limit to a network. Of course, just one non-fiber link changes the calculus.

        1. TMT – sorry your other ID got whacked….

          re: congestion

          actually – it’s a big deal – because cable companies are limited to how much they can deploy and expand service to those who don’t yet have it – because they are forced to try to build enough capacity to serve the existing demand.

          this is the same problem VDOT has. adding capacity to urban areas to relieve rush hour congestion is hugely expensive and sucks up funding that could be used to make roads better elsewhere – and that, in turn, drives VDOT into the PPP arrangements…

          private sector cable companies have similar challenges – trying to meet demand in existing areas – while trying to expand to areas not yet served at all.

          did you say if your electric bill is bigger or smaller than your cable (or cable cell phone bills?).

          isn’t it ironic that these days – electricity – when our houses totally depend on 24/7 – costs less than “communication”? (but we willingly support exchanging more pollution for cheaper electricity)

          1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            Cable companies do have a bigger capacity problem since they still use more shared distribution facilities. The only way to keep wired customers long term is to use direct fiber connections, IMO. No sharing.

            Capacity problems in a shared network is somewhat like the old party line problem where only one customer could use the line at one time. Carriers sometimes have capacity problems when customers order residential connections that are used for business purposes.

            Usually the largest bill is the cell phone bill because we have 4 smartphones on the plan. I’m looking to reduce the costs. The cable/Internet/phone bill from Verizon is significantly smaller than the old bill from Cox. The electric bill often is less than both cable and cell phone, except when the A/C season is on us. I saw big savings in the electric bill when I replaced the old electric hot water heater with a more efficient gas device.

          2. fiber optic is essentially direct lines.. there are thousands of strands in the cables.

            we have similar cost increase issues with air conditioning.

            cell phone bill is the smallest – we use Consumer Cellular…

            cable is outrageous… especially the way they bundle … but like you – I’m now lucky enough to have access to two cable companies…and I’m working on getting Direct TV (which cut my father-in-laws bill by more than 1/2).

            but on the broadband itself – the key to Virginia’s economic future – in my view – is wide and deep internet especially into the rural areas to the schools and libraries and then using cellular to get it out into the extended rural.

            We need rural folks to have robust access to education and other services provided by internet. We need the modern equivalent of the rural electrification program – in my view.

    1. awesome map! and yes it confirms that the poorer parts of Virginia do not have good access and in turn the citizens and students in those counties do not.

      I would posit that if we had this kind of disparity in electricity or phones that it would constitute a call to action by the state -in that it Constitutionally seeks that – especially for schools. This is why, for instance, the State provides additional funding not only for schools but law enforcement and other services deemed essential.

      the question is – is a robust – equivalent speed Internet – “essential” these days?

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