Study shows U.S. broadband speeds continue to lag

A large labor union has published a study showing that broadband speeds haven't changed much in the past year, with the U.S. still behind other countries.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

The average download and upload speeds for broadband services across the U.S. have remained relatively unchanged over the past year as the U.S. continues to lag behind other countries in terms of broadband speeds, according to a report published by the Communications Workers of America labor union.

The report, released Tuesday, consists of data from 230,000 online speed tests across the U.S. In its Speed Matters blog announcing the study's results, the group highlighted that the average download speeds increased only 0.4 megabits per second to 2.3Mbps. By contrast, the average download speed in Japan is 63 Mbps and in South Korea the average download speed is 49 Mbps.

As for upload speeds, the average in the U.S. was only 435 kilobits per second.

The CWA is using the report to lobby lawmakers to develop a national broadband policy. Specifically, the union is backing a Senate bill called the Broadband Data Improvement Act (S.1492) that calls for the government to define advanced telecommunications services so that the Federal Communications Commission can more accurately define broadband conditions in the U.S.

The union's president, Larry Cohen, said that improving broadband service is critical for the U.S. to remain competitive in the global market.

"This isn't about how fast someone can download a full-length movie," he said in the blog. "Speed matters to our economy and our ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace. Rural development, telemedicine and distance learning all rely on truly high-speed, universal networks."

Of course, Cohen's union has a vested interest in whether companies such as AT&T and Verizon Communications upgrade their networks to handle faster broadband speeds. The more than 700,000 members of the CWA union are workers who would help build these networks.

That said, there have been other studies that have shown the U.S. lagging behind other countries in terms of broadband penetration and speeds. Other groups have highlighted this research to also push for a national broadband policy.