US broadband growth and speeds disappointing

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Two pieces of research have painted a grim picture of the US broadband industry..

Firstly Leichtman Research Group has produced a report showing that broadband take-up halved in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the same period last year, the lowest level of growth in seven years.

“Net broadband additions in the quarter were the fewest of any quarter in the seven years LRG has been tracking the industry,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.

“While the relative number of quarterly broadband adds has certainly peaked, the decline in additions this quarter compared to the same period last year was exacerbated by Verizon and AT&T’s emphasis on selling higher speed FiOS and U-verse bundled services, often at the expense of the traditional DSL service.”

Cable companies managed to do reasonably well, getting 76 per cent of new customers and having a total broadband market share of 54 per cent.

The research covered the top 20 providers, accounting for 94 per cent of the market, and just over 65 million customers.

The second piece of research, from a study sponsored by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) found that the US is slipping behind other industrialized nations in terms of broadband speeds.

The group set up and online speed test and took data from nearly 230,000 internet users. It found poor speeds across the whole country and found a median speed of just 2.3 Mbps for American internet users.

Rhode Island had the highest internet speeds, with an average of 6.8 Mbps, while Alaska was the slowest at 0.8 Mbps.

"This isn't about how fast someone can download a full-length movie. Speed matters to our economy and our ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace," said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America.

"We are the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote universal, high-speed Internet access—and it shows. Most of our Speed Test users logged on with broadband connections such as DSL, cable modem or fiber."

"People with dial-up connections didn't take the test because it took them too long, so even these dismal statistics paint a rosier-than-reality picture of connection speeds across the country."

The group compared this to average download speeds in Japan of 63 Mbps, in South Korea of 49 Mbps and in France of 17 Mbps. It is calling for a national telecommunications infrastructure program to help the US catch up.

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