The more Internet speed improves, the more we bemoan slowdowns. A few years ago, live-streaming a television show was unthinkable. Now, it feels like the end of the world when your tablet or smartphone freezes for a moment.
But residents of Delaware rarely know such pain. That’s because the First State is also the state with the fastest Internet connections in the country — and they’re among the fastest in the world.
A new report from Akamai, an Internet service provider, finds that people in Delaware enjoyed average Internet speeds of 17.4 megabits per second in the third quarter of 2014, more than one Mbps faster than those in the second-fastest state, Washington. Delaware’s average Internet speed is faster than that in every country other than South Korea, which averages 25.3 Mbps. Delaware’s fastest connections, 75.7 Mbps, were speedier than peak Mbps anywhere but Singapore and Hong Kong.
Delaware, Washington and Connecticut have Internet connections that average more than 15 Mbps, Akamai’s threshold for what it calls “4K Readiness,” meaning they’re fast enough to stream ultra-high-definition video. Globally, just 12 percent of Internet connections met the 4K Readiness standard; in Delaware, 39 percent of connections did.
Delaware has invested heavily in improving broadband connections. The legislature passed a measure in 2013 to bulk up broadband service to schools, libraries and rural areas that were otherwise underserved by cable companies. New fiber-optic infrastructure runs the length of the state, from Wilmington to Georgetown, funded in part by the state’s economic development office.
The state Department of Technology and Information has worked with wireless service providers to expand coverage into southern, more rural areas; now, 99.1 percent of Delaware is covered by wireless providers.
It helps, of course, that Delaware is relatively small and sits along the busy I-95 corridor, where cell coverage and development are almost ubiquitous. By contrast, Alaska, Arkansas and Kentucky — three largely rural states where building Internet infrastructure is costly — are at the bottom of the rankings. The average Alaskan connects at just 7.2 Mbps, Akamai found.
Year over year, every state’s connection speeds improved in 2014. But when you just have to stream your favorite team or download the latest blockbuster as fast as you can, your best bet is to connect in Delaware.