68% of US broadband connections have less than 4Mbps down

According to an FCC report (PDF) on the state of Internet access in the United States, 68% of high-speed connections are too slow to be considered broadband. TechSpot has a summary of the report, which points out that an Internet connection must be capable of 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up to be considered broadband by the FCC. Surprisingly, 58% of of households are stuck with less than 3Mbps of downstream bandwidth. 30% do have a connection that offers more than 6Mbps down, though.

Obviously, the sheer geographical area that must be covered by US broadband providers has a hand in keeping speeds down, at least when compared to countries with higher population densities. However, the report covers the Internet connections that folks have chosen rather than simply what’s available in their area. The FCC’s definition of broadband may require 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up, but some are choosing to get by with less.

Interestingly, the number of high-speed Internet connections for residential homes went up by 3% in the second half of 2009. Over the same period, the number of wireless data plans increased by a whopping 53%. For consumers who don’t ask much more of their Internet service than web browsing, email, Facebook, and the occasional YouTube clip, a ‘net connection that falls short of the official threshold for broadband may still feel fast enough. Having that Internet connection available at all times via a smartphone is probably more valuable than a faster connection at home.

Comments closed
    • dashbarron
    • 9 years ago

    3MB/768 on wireless @ about $45

    • LauRoman
    • 9 years ago

    I’m happy in my east European country with my 22$ 100 mbps up an down connection (which includes one dtv subscription, one phone subscription and a 5gb capped 3g modem). Though i’m sad i ain’t got spotify or netflix or some other consistent way to get my digital media… consistently. On the other hand media giant lobbied organisations don’t break down my door asking how i got my media. On the other hand i do have easy ways of purchasing my games as half the time i go buy a retail copy if i can’t spot a good online deal.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    I had 3mb DSL till a year and a half ago. been 12 mb or more ever since.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    Its ‘good enough’ for now, based on the majority of usage. Generally 3mbit is fast enough for most 720p streaming even, if you have a good 3mbit with low latency.

    It won’t be good enough in 2-3 years time, I don’t believe though. I have 25/5mbit, but I live in Philadelphia and Comcast treats me right. I could probably get by easily now with 5-7mbit if it was a good solid connection, and I stream, torrent, game, voip very frequently. I’d imagine if I was less of a nerd, 3-5mbit would be fine currently.

    Also, a lot of these people don’t KNOW any better. They know they used to have dial up and now they have 1.5mbit and its WAY faster. Good enough for them. Also, most people aren’t streaming netflix in HD. I’d like to see the metrics but with all the Wiis out there, if people are using netflix on their Wii, its SD only. 3mbit will stream SD content just fine.

    • kitsura
    • 9 years ago

    Don’t complain. Over in Singapore they are advertising DSL at 10 down 1 up but that is maximum speed only which can hardly be achieved. We also recently have FIOS advertised at 100 down 10 up but that speeds are also mythical. In fact I think there is going to be a regulation passed for telcos to stop overselling and report average speeds and not maximum only.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      You must be confused by megaBYTES and megaBITS. Advertised speeds are in megaBITs. Divide by 8 to see your apporximate download maximum in megaBYTES.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 9 years ago

    I was stuck at 1.5Mbit/128K for around 10 years until I moved. My current speeds are 6Mbit/768K now. I tried Comcast’s 10Mbit/3Mbit service for a couple of months until I was sick of them being down for days at at time each month.

    It’s a sad state that the US is in with speeds. I recently visited a friend in Korea who has a standard 100Mbit up & down and was blown away. Plus the price was at least half of what I pay in US dollars. This is the price we pay for capitalism. I won’t even get into the cell phone plans which make the US carriers look even more ridiculous, or us for that matter to be paying the prices we do.

      • Krogoth
      • 9 years ago

      Those speeds and prices are from a mixed of more competition and government subsidies (laying down the infrastructure for 100Mbps internet connections isn’t cheap).

    • TravelMug
    • 9 years ago

    I have 25/2.5 for $56/month. It’s good, I’m mostly limited by the server speed on the other side of the connection.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    you can thank cable companies for throttling your speed that you are currently overpaying. currently on time warner – earthlink 10mbps plan in NYC, and throttled daily EVERY DAM DAY to less than 1mbps. maybe i should just pay them $5 a month for the speed that they do provide…

    • Bauxite
    • 9 years ago

    /addicted to FIOS

    As for extremely asymmetrical connections:

    The sleazy isps that want to shove this kind of BS on everyone can go to hell along with the horse they rode in on.

    >10:1 should be a friggin *[

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      The only ones who need symmetric connections are PIRATES!!!

      In fact, I should report you to RIAA, MPAA and FBI.

        • Kilos
        • 9 years ago

        What about gamers?

        If anyone else on my network is streaming video (even youtube low quality), I have to quit playing whatever MMO I’m on. Connection gets too saturated to the point where the lag is unbearable.

          • Vaughn
          • 9 years ago

          You need a better router Kilos.

          Any router with Decent QOS and your gaming machine set to the highest priority for packets should solve that.

          • Corrado
          • 9 years ago

          What does streaming a video DOWN have to do with your lag in a MMO that having symetrical upstream will help fix? The streaming video has ZERO to do with the upstream.

            • Kilos
            • 9 years ago

            My network meter shows that a considerable amount of uplink traffic occurs when first loading or seeking in a youtube video. It may not be all that much, but certainly enough to interrupt others on the network.

            @Vaughn: Yeah. Perhaps I was too hasty in blaming the ISP before the router. Too bad this Netgear one doesn’t support third-party firmwares. 🙁

        • albundy
        • 9 years ago

        TR Ops should have a ban button for those that threaten others.

          • ludi
          • 9 years ago

          The only people who want to quash dissent are TERRORISTS!!!

          I should report you to DHS, TSA, and the Constitution.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 9 years ago

    65% of U.S. homes and under-insulated…

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Only 65%?

        • PrincipalSkinner
        • 9 years ago

        So the keep saying in ads on internet radios.

    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    Too many spoiled kiddies.

    I remember when 14.4Kbs was fast………

    To be honest, > 4Mbps/1Mbps is fast enough for the majority of users. You only need more if you are running a business, non-profit organization or a hardcore pirate.

    The whiners should stop using the Scandinavian, Japan and Korea examples. They are flukes (government subsidies, ultra-high population densities) not the norm.

    • Vaughn
    • 9 years ago

    Been on 10/1 for a fews years now i’m in canada.

    In my house i’m the only real heavy user with 2 other lite users so speeds have been fine. With a decent QOS router (DGL 4500) run torrents and also no problems.

    i’m on a 5101 Surfboard which is docsis 2.0 for me to move up to my ISP’s faster packages I need go to docsis 3.0 they however are forcing you to use some SMC router/modem POS which I said no to. So will stay put for now the only thing I would really use more download for anyways is Steam I currently max out at 1.2mb/sec and the uploads could use a boost when uploading alot of photo’s on imageshack or facebook.

    in my area we only have 1 major cables provider and one major dsl provider so much must of a choice.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    68% of people who aren’t the ones pirating things apparently don’t care.

      • Jigar
      • 9 years ago

      So people who pay more for faster internet pirate eh ? That’s some logic.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    I work in between Palo Alto, CA and Mountain View, CA, a few miles from google HQ. I have 1.5 mb/s DSL.

    In fact, I don’t have modern DSL that requires a phone line, I have an ancient system that doesn’t require phone lines and probably can’t go any faster. (not an expert, don’t know if this is accurate info)

    Comcast has spent the last 9 months trying to negotiate with the city and my landlord to build out a new connection to my office… maybe next month we will finally get high speed service…. maybe…

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      While costs may be high, /[

        • FatherXmas
        • 9 years ago

        Actually the “Military Industrial Complex” grew because of the public money and mandates for improved science and math education in primary schools, caused by the original “Sputnik moment”. Before then primary school subjects were heavily skewed to history and literature. The eventual result created loads of engineers and scientists in the 60s and beyond to try and “catch up” with the big bad USSR.

        Of course most of the modern technology today are spinoffs from what was developed by the “Military Industrial Complex”.

        Today’s youth really need a modern version of the old James Burke “Connections” TV series to get a sense what events created what you take for granted today.

    • travbrad
    • 9 years ago

    I have pretty good down speed/$ (15mbps/2mbps for $50), but it doesn’t surprise me that most “broadband” isn’t really that fast. It’s only fast here because Comcast decided to deploy/test DOCSIS 3 stuff in an area without a ton of internet users.

    Considering the only competition (Qwest) only offered up to 3mbps until a few months ago, the speed/price seems pretty good here actually (compared to some areas of the country anyway)

    Of course with the bandwidth caps your actual maximum speed may not be as important. My Comcast connection may be 15mbps but if I actually used that I’d be over my limit in less than 2 days (and thats with Comcast’s huge 250GB limit, some ISPs go as low as 20-30GB).

    • FatherXmas
    • 9 years ago

    There are a couple of points here.

    First cost. Right now around where I live 3Mb/s goes for $30-35 a month. Hardly cheap for a single income family. And you need that to get Hulu at 480p. Next tier up, 6-10Mb/s is $10-15 more.

    Second due to limited or no competition, it’s a single cable or local phone company and if you are out of range of DSL it’s just cable. FCC rulings a few years back make independent DSL unprofitable when they ruled that unlike phones, your local company didn’t have to open up their networks to DSL competitors. No true competition, no reason for pricing to go down.

    Third, while cities with there multistory condos, apartments or row houses have a fairly high density, older suburbs are still “sparse” in comparison. I grew up in a suburb developed in the 60s where neighborhoods were homes built on 1/2 to 3/4 acre lots. Once you toss in roads and public areas you are looking at less than 1000 homes per square mile. Compared to modern subdivisions with postage stamp size lots these older neighborhoods are considered sparse. Verizon FIOS and ATT U-Verse aren’t rushing into those areas.

    Fourth, to many young people have become spoiled with broadband, wrongly thinking that it’s everywhere since it was standard in high school and college or not really costly when they split a connection with a couple of ways with roommates. However if you are a single income family, yet another $40-50 a month bill for over 3Mb/s can be considered a luxury when 1.5Mb or 768Kb plans are acceptable for gaming, iTunes and Facebook.

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    I’m getting some 30Mbps down,10Mbps up. Thank you Comcast.

    Tip: Upgrade your cable modem. Switching from an old SurfBoard to a new DOCIS3.0 one more than doubled my speeds…! I was stuck at 10-12Mbps although I was on a 16Mbps plan. Now I’m getting well beyond what I’m supposed to get.

    • merkill
    • 9 years ago

    Had 100/100mbit and was torrenting at 8meg/s down and 6meg up for about 45$ in my old apartment .

    Now im on sucky adsl 24/3mbit and only torrent 1.6meg down and 200k upload for 32$ damn rippoff

    My ratios are going all to hell (need better pirateboat argh connection i mean)
    ISPs are better pirates than i am.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Americans need to force telcos to open up last mile exchanges to wholesalers and resellers.

    Australia had one of the worst broadband plans in the ’00s, and after they passed legislation to uncouple the last mile from ‘the big two’ (Telstra and Optus), you can now get 24 Mbps+ ADSL on your phone line.

    Meanwhile, I’m stuck with 6 Mbps from AT&T. For the suck.

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah, I think most of us could live with ~5 down. I’d love 5down/5up. The upload speeds are the real problem. Since the average consumer only looks at 50Mbps down OmG Its teh fasterest!!! What is the point of a line running 50down/1up? Sickening.

    I’m on 10down/512up. It’s atrocious.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      What are you uploading?

      10/1 would be perfectly fine for me.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    Im still stuck on 50Mb/2Mb, my download:upload ratio is appalling!
    Im off to download entire TV series to keep me entertained for the next week, its gunna take at least 20 minutes at this rate…

    • poulpy
    • 9 years ago

    50MB down / 1.5MB up for just under $40 (£25) per month here in the UK with Virgin.

    Back in France, where the market is really competitive, I had 20MB + TV + Free phone calls EU wide for $40 (€30) since around 2000.. Missing you Free.fr!

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, but those are developed countries, while the U.S. is a developing one.

        • BoBzeBuilder
        • 9 years ago

        but but… the US has the biggest tanks. That counts for something.

      • kdashjl
      • 9 years ago

      for the same price i got 1mb/128kbps and phone service
      here in mexico 🙁

      • abw
      • 9 years ago

      My wifi connec. is somewhat crappy,
      but my home broadband one is 100mb down/8m up,
      for a hefty 20 euros..

    • bcronce
    • 9 years ago

    “Obviously, the sheer geographical area that must be covered by US broadband providers has a hand in keeping speeds down”

    I’d like to remind everyone that ~80% of people in the USA live in or around a Major city. Lack of population density is a corner case, not the norm.

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      Point missed. The telco infrastructure providers have to maintain connectivity way beyond that 80%. This drives costs up, which they recover by charging premium prices for high-speed services. The result is that people like me, in spite of living in the suburbs of a major city, purchase an affordable 1.5mbit DSL connection because it’s plenty good enough for casual browsing, Windows Updates, an occasional Steam purchase, and Hulu.

    • h4x0rpenguin
    • 9 years ago

    Pffft. Whiners. 4Mbps down/1Mbps up is the fastest speed offered by our craptastic ISPs, and they usually don’t hit anything close to that. I’m rocking 512Kbps down/256Kbps up (which btw are the advertised speeds. In reality I doubt it’s anywhere close to that). So yeah, quit whining 😛

    EDIT: I realize that’s not the point of the post. Jus’ sayin’

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    I’m at 1.5 down, something terrible up. I’m ok with the download but I’d love 3-4x my current upload speed…but it’s an extra 30/month to go to the next tier.

    • pedro
    • 9 years ago

    Still rocking an alleged 2 Mbps here in Bangkok. It’s slow but good enough.

    • bittermann
    • 9 years ago

    I’m on 2MB up/down DSL and no way is it fast enough. That is as fast as our ISP offers for now…although they are updating their services to fiber!

    • TheEmrys
    • 9 years ago

    These numbers get skewed by DSL, particularly in western states where populations are low. The vast majority of DSL in the west (aside from California) has only 896k upload, with up to 20mb download available. I was on 7m/896k DSL for a while, and it was great. 1.5m/896k was fine until we got my wife a laptop and she was browsing through pdf’s for homework.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    yo! that’s fast enough!

      • Malphas
      • 9 years ago

      The problem with your reasoning, sweatshopking, is that saying 3Mbps is “fast enough” is like saying a 3ghz CPU is fast enough; I remember when the Web was a bunch of handwritten html files, gifs and maybe a midi here and there, 512kpbs was considered fast back then. Now the web consists of high resolution images, intensive juse of Ajax, Flash, embedded video, audio files, Silverlight, etc. and in the coming years it’s going to become more and more HTML5, wepapp and “cloud” oriented, meaning we’re going to need increasingly faster connections to make proper use of the Internet.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        3Mbps is fast enough NOW, just like 3GHz CPU is fast enough NOW.

        I remember when 56kbps modems were fast enough.

          • kvndoom
          • 9 years ago

          You forget that people have no patience and want everything handed to them NOW.

          • Malphas
          • 9 years ago

          That’s exactly what I was saying basically, Neelycam. Although in hindsight there are times when 3Mbps isn’t actually fast enough to prevent lag or stuttering, e.g.steaming HD video or using complex webapps – you may see this as still being fast enough, I suppose, but in any case it’s personal opinion rather than objective fact.

          Unlike rolling out a new generation of CPUs however, building faster IP infrastructure takes decades rather than years, it’s still not appropriate to be complacent and simply say “this is fast enough” when we (or rather you in the US) are on the brink of the average connection speed being too slow to access the web effectively (imagine trying to browse the web now that’s laden with flash ads, video, etc. with a 56k modem – practically impossible).

          • Malphas
          • 9 years ago

          Oh, and another point I forgot was household circumstances. 3Mbps might be fine for someone living alone in an apartment, but supposing you have a family with 4+ people all trying to use your wifi at the same time, browsing Youtube, video chatting on Skype, using music streaming services, etc. and that 3Mbps quickly gets clogged up.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            sure. in which case, it isn’t fast enough. but for 90% of people, that’s all they CURRENTLY use. I’m not going to say “whoa, don’t buy that car cause it only get’s 50 miles a gallon, and in 15 years, there will be cars that get 100”. what we’re talking about is now. When that net gets to be too slow, they’ll be saying 68% of people have 30Mbps or slower. for todays internet, 3 is fast enough.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            One doesn’t need YouTube HD. 360p is perfectly fine cat videos and dancing babies. Others don’t suck up much bandwidth.

            People just need to take Basic Budgeting 101.

            • jdaven
            • 9 years ago

            I agree. Whether or not its people asking for slow connections or the geographical area not allowing faster than a certain speed, internet connection speeds need to continually increase for future proofing.

            Are we developing them fast enough? Compared to other developed nations, probably not. But currently, America lacks the educational standards and government funds that accompany huge increases in technology. In the past this was not true, and America was number one. This is unfortunately not the case anymore since the two parties in our government can no longer govern and there is a huge war against education and science going on right now.

          • cygnus1
          • 9 years ago

          No way!! My 16 down 2 up internet is too slow for me sometimes…

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 9 years ago

          I don’t remember dialup ever being fast enough, and it tied up the phone line.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    first post! what a bunch of whiners, 3 is fast enough. sure i’ve got 15, but meh

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      You mist the podcast though, ya tortoise!

        • Jigar
        • 9 years ago

        You both missed the blog post… 😛

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        damn, i didn’t even see that or the blog post!

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          You’re too busy first-posting. Pay attention, dammit!

      • ew
      • 9 years ago

      Obviously sweatshopking has First Post Fast™ Internet.

      • jdaven
      • 9 years ago

      I remember you were complaining that your Steam game download speed was some where around 1.0 M”b”ps. Did you remember to check that “B”/”b” by the download speed and multiple/divide by 8 accordingly? Lol!

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