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Robert Trigaux

Florida falling behind other states in providing high-speed Internet access



FiberopticcableAP Wake up and good morning. When it comes to providing competitive Internet access speeds, Florida is slipping.The Sunshine State ranks 18th among U.S. states in a new report on Internet access download and upload speeds, down from 13th the year before. So says the annual analysis "Speed Matters: Affordable High Speed Internet for America" just out from the Communication Workers of America. Here's the full report. (AP photo: Fiber optic cable.)

The average Internet download speed in Florida is 5.7 megabits per second, just slightly faster than the  national average of  5.1 megabits per second, though consumers' online experiences can vary depending on where they happen to live. Here's a state-by-state comparison.

The drop in ranks of Internet access speed is clearly disappointing. That decline influences productivity and, boy, could Florida use an extra dose of that these days. Interestingly, the 2009 download and upload speeds in Florida are higher than they were last year in the state, but Florida still dropped in the ranks, indicating how competitive faster Internet speeds have become with the greater spread of broadband services.

Statewide, Florida Internet speeds were all over the place:

Download Speed Range % of Florida
Less than 768 kbps 12%
768 kbps to 6 mbps 52%
6 to 10 mbps 19%
10 to 25 mbps 17%
Greater than 25 mbps 1%

Speeds varied widely within Florida counties and among zip codes. For examples;

* Hillsborough County: The fastest download speeds were registered in four zip codes, all exceeding 10 megabits per second: 33556, 33592,33527 and 33547.

* Pinellas County: Wake up, Pinellas. An unimpressive showing, where the fastest download speeds were registered in just one north county zip code: 34683.

* Pasco County: The fastest download speeds were registered in four zip codes: 34668, 34690, 33556 (overlapping with Hillsborough) and 34639.

* Hernando County: No top speeds were reported. But three zip codes -- 34613, 34614 and 34609 -- reported download speeds between 6-10 mbps.

* Citrus County: The fastest download speeds were registered in just one zip code: 34453.

* Manatee County: Lucky Anna Maria Island. It was the sole zip code -- 34216 -- with the fastest download speeds.

How fast is your neighborhood? Test your own zip code here.

Nationwide, at the high end, Delaware (presumably its smaller geography helps) averages 9.9 megabits per second, almost double Florida's speed and the national average. The data are based on feedback from more than 413,000 Internet users who took an online test between May 2008 and May 2009.

The big swing owes to the way broadband is deployed. In the U.S., it's basically up to individual companies to decide where to offer broadband. In the Tampa Bay area, broadband player Verizon is slowly making its FiOS fiber optic Internet service available to a wider geography, though lower Pinellas is still waiting.

Internationally, the United States is middle of the pack, ranking 28th in average Internet speed. Concludes the "Speed Matters" report"

"The results of this third annual survey of Internet speeds show that the U.S. has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet. Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries."

As a practical example, the reports notes how big public policy initiatives will not work well with slow Internet speeds:

"At this rate, it will take the United States 15 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in South Korea.Moreover, the average upload speed from the survey is far too slow for patient monitoring or to transmit large files
such as medical records."

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:25am]


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