Survey ranks Utah tops in West for broadband Internet speeds

July 30th, 2013

This article was originally published in the Salt Lake Tribune on July 29, 2013 by Vince Horiuchi

The next time you’re streaming “House of Cards” on Netflix without a hiccup or waiting for the show to buffer, be thankful you live in Utah.

The Beehive state has the fastest broadband Internet speeds of any Western state and one of the fastest in the whole country, according to the latest report from Internet content delivery network, Akamai Technologies.

Consumers in Utah are connected to the Internet at an average speed of 11 megabits per second, fifth fastest in the country and a 29 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the First Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report, which is released four times a year. Utah was the only Western state to make the top 10. Vermont was fastest in the country with an average speed of 12.7 megabits per second.

At 11 megabits-per-second speeds, a user could download a three-minute song in just seconds and a two-hour high-definition movie in less than 40 minutes. A Netflix subscriber can easily stream a movie without the need for the video to stop and buffer.

Also according to the report, the average peak connection speed in Utah is 41.9 megabits per second, the 10th fastest in the country. District of Columbia was first with 47.2 megabits, followed by Vermont with 47.1 megabits.

Tara Thue, project manager for the State of Utah Broadband Project, which is charged with the deployment of high-speed Internet in the state, said the main reason for Utah’s fast speeds may be because the state’s rural areas are ahead of other states in terms of broadband accessibility.”It isn’t common, especially in states of this size, to have a lot of rural service,” she said. “We we’re kind of early adopters for high tech services in rural areas.”

While Utah may have one of the fastest broadband connections in the country, there are not as many people who take advantage of it, according to the Akamai report. The state didn’t break the top 10 in the number of those with broadband connections above 4 megabits per second. In New Hampshire, 90 percent of the residents have access to connections above 4 megabits, the highest in the country.

But Utah’s growth in Internet speeds is consistent with its growth in the technology sector. Last year, Forbes ranked Salt Lake City the fourth best city in the country for tech jobs. Meanwhile, UTOPIA, the municipal fiber-optic Internet network run by 11 northern Utah cities from Tremonton to Payson, has one of the fastest networks in the country with speeds up to 1 gigabit, or more than 1,000 megabits per second.

 Earlier this year, search engine giant Google announced that Provo would be the third metropolitan area in the country to get its Google Fiber high-speed network, which also will offer up to more 1-gigabit speeds to consumers. Kansas City and Austin, Texas, are the other two cities to get the service.