Fixed Broadband: In Q3 2023, the median download speed of fixed broadband in the United States was 213.75 Mbps, the 6th fastest among all countries.
Mobile Broadband: In Q3 2023, the median download speed of mobile broadband in the United States was 97.09 Mbps, the 15th fastest among all countries.
In the digital age, the speed at which information travels across the web is not merely a matter of convenience, but a critical factor driving economic growth, innovation, and social interaction. The United States, as a cradle of technological advancements, finds itself at the heart of this digital transformation. The quest for faster and more reliable internet is an ongoing endeavor, intertwining with the nation’s broader goals of fostering a digitally inclusive society and maintaining a competitive edge on the global stage.
NOTE: The internet speed data in this article is based on Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, which updates quarterly.
Overview of Internet Speeds in the United States
- Median Download Speed: 213.75 Mbps
- Global Ranking: 6th
The United States is positioned in the top 10 countries globally, showcasing its significant progress in internet infrastructure. Hong Kong leads the chart with a median download speed of 265.17 Mbps, followed closely by Singapore and Chile. Despite being in the top tier, the U.S. still has room for improvement, particularly in catching up to the leaders in this domain.
- Median Download Speed: 97.09 Mbps
- Global Ranking: 15th
Compared to the global average download speed of 85.31 Mbps for fixed broadband, the United States is performing substantially better. However, considering the fact that the United States doesn’t even crack the top 10 for mobile internet speeds indicates that there is a lot of room for improvement.
Factors Influencing the U.S. Internet Speeds
- 5G Rollout: The rapid deployment of 5G networks across the country has played a pivotal role in boosting internet speeds, particularly for mobile internet.
- Investment in Fiber-Optic Networks: There has been a significant investment in developing and expanding fiber-optic networks, providing a faster and more reliable internet connection.
- ISP Enhancements: Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the U.S., such as Spectrum with a median download speed of 243.02 Mbps, are continuously working to enhance their services and provide better speeds to consumers.
Regional Variance of Internet Speeds in the U.S.
The digital landscape across the United States is far from uniform, with internet speeds serving as a testament to this uneven development.
Internet Speeds by State:
A glance at Ookla’s data highlights a mix of fixed broadband speeds that vary significantly from one state to another. As of the third quarter of 2023:
- Florida emerged as a frontrunner with a robust median download speed of 240.32 Mbps.
- Trailing behind were Rhode Island, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Nevada, each with their own set of figures painting a broader picture of regional digital disparities.
Peeling back the layers reveals a complex interplay of factors driving these variations in fixed broadband speeds.
Internet Speeds by City:
Delving into the city-level data on fixed broadband speeds shines an even brighter spotlight on the connectivity gap within the United States. As of Q3 2023, among the 100 most populous cities:
- Raleigh, North Carolina took the pole position with a median download speed of 291.53 Mbps over fixed broadband.
- Irvine, California, and North Las Vegas, Nevada followed suit, showcasing the cities as burgeoning digital hubs.
- However, this digital prowess isn’t uniform across the board. Cities like Atlanta, Georgia, and Denver, Colorado found themselves at the lower spectrum with median download speeds of 93.94 Mbps and 106.63 Mbps respectively.
The narrative of internet speeds extends beyond just numbers; it’s a reflection of a city’s digital infrastructure. Cities like Raleigh and Irvine are setting the pace, showcasing the potential of a well-rounded digital infrastructure. Conversely, the lower median speeds in cities like Atlanta and Denver highlight areas where there’s room for significant improvement.
The variation in fixed broadband speeds across the US highlights a massive digital divide and serves as a call to action for stakeholders — from policymakers to service providers — to ramp up efforts in bridging this connectivity gap.
Initiatives to Bridge the Digital Divide
Various policy initiatives have been implemented or proposed to bridge the broadband gap across the United States, addressing the discrepancies in broadband access and ensuring that more Americans have reliable internet service. These initiatives are propelled by different levels of government and various stakeholders, each contributing towards a more connected nation.
Federal Infrastructure Bill 2021: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed in 2021 allocates $65 billion for broadband infrastructure, aiming to ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet. The funds are designated for the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, supporting digital inclusion efforts, and providing subsidies for low-income households to afford broadband services. The legislation also aims to promote price transparency and competition among broadband providers.
FCC’s Open Internet Proposal: In 2023, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed the Open Internet initiative, which aims to reclassify broadband internet service as an essential service, akin to water, power, and phone service. This proposal intends to re-establish FCC’s oversight over broadband, promoting internet openness, enhancing security, and improving the resiliency of broadband networks. The initiative also endeavors to establish a uniform, national standard for broadband policies, replacing the current patchwork of state requirements. It emphasizes the importance of broadband, especially in the wake of the pandemic, which showcased the critical role of the internet in daily life, work, education, healthcare, and commerce.
State Initiatives: Various states have also taken steps to bridge the broadband gap. For instance, California has launched the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to provide financial grants to projects that will provide broadband services to unserved and underserved areas. This state-level initiative aims to achieve 98% broadband access across the state.
Broadband Competition and Affordability: Measures are also being implemented to foster competition among broadband providers and make broadband more affordable. The FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit and provides a discount of up to $30 per month towards broadband service for eligible households, and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.
Local Initiatives and Public-Private Partnerships: On a local level, cities and municipalities are entering partnerships with private companies to expand broadband access. For example, the city of San Jose has engaged in public-private partnerships to expand broadband infrastructure, aiming to provide free or low-cost broadband to residents, especially in low-income communities.
The Journey Ahead
The United States stands at a pivotal point in its digital evolution, with internet speed variations reflecting the broader challenges and opportunities of this era. The swift advancements in broadband infrastructure and technology have indeed propelled many regions into a future of faster and more reliable internet. Yet, the landscape is marred by persistent disparities, with certain states and cities lagging significantly behind.
From the bustling digital hubs of New Jersey and Raleigh, North Carolina, to the slower-paced connectivity in parts of California and Montana, the tapestry of internet speeds across the nation tells a story of uneven development. It’s a narrative that goes beyond mere numbers, underscoring the critical role of digital infrastructure in shaping a city’s and a state’s competitive edge, innovation capacity, and overall quality of life.
As we grapple with this digital divide, the path forward requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders—government bodies, service providers, communities, and individuals alike. It’s not just about enhancing speeds but ensuring equitable access, fostering an environment where every American, regardless of their geographic location, can tap into the vast potentials of the