US Internet Speeds Improve, Still Lag Behind Other Countries

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Internet speed in the US has accelerated, and is poised to continue to do so, reports a new study by Speedtest.

Internet speeds in the US have gotten faster in the first six months of 2016, but not quick enough to surpass speeds in other nations, according to a new report from Speedtest.

Speedtest.net is a global broadband speed test by Ookla, which specializes in speed testing and web-based network diagnostic apps. The site recently released its Speedtest Market Report, which sheds light on internet speed growth and top service providers.

Internet speeds in the US have accelerated during the first half of 2016, according to the company's data. The information came from Speedtest, which has hundreds of millions of users and hosts more than 8 million tests each day on both broadband and mobile.

[Study: Ransomware hit nearly 50% of businesses in 2015.]

Users with fixed broadband internet experienced the biggest increase as download speeds reached an average of more than 50 Mbps for the first time. The performance boost among fixed broadband customers marks an improvement of more than 40% since July 2015.

"Overall, the fixed broadband industry has seen consolidation, speed upgrades and, thankfully, growth in fiber optic deployments from upstarts like Google Fiber to industry titans like Xfinity and AT&T to other regional internet service providers," according to the Aug. 3 report.

According to the study, the 50Mbps mark is more than enough for typical activity like web browsing and video streaming. However, 50Mbps is only a small fraction of the speed that gigabit fiber optic internet offers.

The growth in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity continued to grow throughout the US in 2015. Google Fiber began to offer service in Kansas City in September 2012. Service locations have expanded since then.

Among Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Xfinity was fastest in the US, boasting a top-tier download speed of 125.53 Mbps. While Xfinity has consistently had the fastest download speed over the past year, its upload speed is among the slowest of top providers at 15.26 Mbps. Verizon Fios has the fastest upload speed among US ISPs.

Despite the overall acceleration for average consumers, not all internet customers in the US have experienced the speed boost.

Speedtest cited a recent Broadband Progress Report from the US Federal Communications Commission, which discovered 10% of Americans do not have access to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. This percentage grows to 39% for rural populations.

The report noted that internet speeds vary depending on users' location in the US. Only 4% of Americans in urban areas lack access to these speeds, which the FCC considers "target speeds," and the largest concentration of the US population lives in urban areas.

Mobile customers have seen improvement as speed has increased more than 30% since last year. The average download speed reached 19.27 Mbps in the first six months of 2016.

Speeds accelerated as major mobile carriers Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint competed to attract new customers with faster download speeds and lower prices. T-Mobile is the fastest mobile carrier in the US, the report stated.

Going forward, Speedtest anticipates optimists can expect to see an annual 40% growth in fixed broadband performance and 30% increase mobile internet performance.

However, skeptics can note current speeds in the US are still slower than those in other countries. The US ranks 20th in fixed broadband and 42nd in mobile internet performance, around the world, as noted by GeekWire.

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