When it comes to broadband speeds, you are in relatively better shape if you live in Rhode Island, but your problem is bigger in Idaho. But things aren't all too great anywhere in the United States.
The bottom line is that broadband in the states is struggling. The New York Times ran a post looking at two studies recently released by Pando Networks. One said that the U.S. ranks a low 26th among nations, way behind leader South Korea and runner-up Romania. The good news is that we beat France and the United Kingdom. The bad news is that we finished behind such powerhouse nations as Congo (23rd), Moldova (13th) and the Netherlands (11th).
Pando's statewide stats and the percentage of completed downloads can be seen at Massively. Not surprisingly, the coasts seem to do better than the rest of the country, though the situation is a bit less dire in the upper Midwest. 24/7 Wall St. conveniently lists Pando's results top (or bottom) 10: Missouri, Alaska, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming all edge out Idaho.
Lots go into broadband performance, including the level at which networks are subsidized by the government, the demands of regulators and the nature of the geography. A small, densely packed nation is easier to serve than one with wide-open spaces. The huge expanse of the United States is a legitimate partial explanation for its low ranking. It is an unacceptable rationalization as well.
Indeed, the British site Broadband Expert offers 10 elements that impact broadband performance. These include: geography, system hardware, system resources, congestion, the modem/router being used, the condition of the wires and cable, the number of simultaneous users, whether people are surreptitiously using the network, whether the computer has a virus or is hosting spyware and whether the correct broadband package is in use.
The speeds Pando is citing - both in the state-by-state and international studies - are slow by modern standards. Whether it is best for these networks to be made faster through private sector projects and competition or by government fiat and support can be debated. What isn't debatable is that the job has to be done.