When it comes to Internet connectivity, speed is what all users are looking for. Thus, telecommunications companies, wishing to offer their clients the best possible internet experience, invest heavily in new infrastructure. Yet not all firms are following this trend, which is why broadband connectivity speeds vary from country to country.

Akamai Technologies took a closer look at average connection speeds around the world, as well as within the U.S., in their State Of The Internet report, revealing some interesting facts. The information provided by Akamai not only includes the top 10 countries with the fastest internet speeds, but also provides detailed information regarding connectivity within the U.S. Furthermore, the data helps to explain variations in internet speed, especially between countries.

In the U.S. for example, users often complain about slow internet speed, especially in certain regions, such as the Midwest. Internet users in South Korea on the other hand, enjoy the best broadband connectivity in the world. According to the Akamai report, the reason for this is the variation in high broadband connectivity penetration. Whereas 36% of the U.S. enjoy high-speed broadband connectivity, 77% of South Koreans have access to a connection which delivers more than 10 Mbps.

The reason behind the large difference in high speed internet access is believed to be the Telecommunications Act, which was enacted in the U.S. in 1996. This legislature has allowed large firms, such as Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ), Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX), and AT&T Inc (NYSE:T), to divide up the market among themselves, and thus not be exposed to competition. In South Korea on the other hand, the fierce competition amongst telecommunications companies, has led to heavy investments in infrastructure, and ultimately, far better connectivity speeds.

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A closer look at the top 10 countries with the fastest internet speeds confirms that the U.S. is far behind other nations. As mentioned before, South Korea enjoys the fastest internet connectivity, with an average of speed of 23.6 Mbps. Japan is a far second, offering users 14.6 Mbps, despite increasing its average connectivity by 12% last quarter. Hong Kong and Switzerland are next on the list, with an average speed just 1.3-1.9 Mbps slower than Japan. The Netherlands and Latvia remain above the 12 Mbps mark, whereas the remaining top 10 countries, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Ireland, have speeds only slightly above 10 Mbps.

As we can see, the U.S. did not make the top 10, and is actually quite far behind. As a matter of fact, Virginia, where internet speed is the fastest in the country, users can expect a 13.7 Mbps average connection speed, which is barely above the average in Hong Kong. Delaware and Massachusetts complete the top 3 with an average internet speed of 13.1 Mbps, and are followed by Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, and Washington. Next on the list are New Hampshire and Utah, with speeds still above the 12 Mbps mark, whereas the last two states in the top 10, Michigan and Connecticut, offer 11.8 and 11.7 Mbps respectively.

Overall, the comparison between the top 10 countries with the fastest internet speeds and the top 10 states in the U.S. seems relatively even. However, considering there are another 40 States with speeds are low as 7 Mbps (Alaska), it seems evident that the major telecommunications companies in the U.S. have a lot of work ahead in terms of providing fast internet to their users.

Disclosure: Pablo Erbar holds no position in any stocks or funds mentioned.

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