America’s Internet Speed Problem: Half The Country Can Barely Stream Netflix

Netflix in the homeRemember when downloading a simple picture on the internet could take several minutes? That problem hasn’t gotten much better in 2012 for at least half of America’s internet users. While pictures may be faster Netflix, Amazon Prime and other video services can not be properly utilized by more than 50% of the American public.

While the Federal Communications Commission’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report this week revealed that 94% of American households have access to “broadband” but 60 percent of those homes subscribe to the minimum broadband speed of 768 kilobits per second (kbps) — far less than the FCC’s broadband definition of 4 megabits per second.

To put those speeds in perspective Netflix requires a minimum speed of 500 kbps and when other WiFi connections are being utilized many of those users fall below the minimum video streaming data limits for the monthly subscription based service.

Netflix requires 3 Mbps for DVD-quality videos which according to the report is only provided to 38% of U.S. households. For high-definition Netflix wants at least 5 Mbps but recommends a minimum speed of 6Mbps. Many home owners would need access to high quality DSL, cable, or fiber internet to get this speed.

The study did not include areas with wireless services now available and it did not examine high speed internet provided by Android and iOS app. Although streaming high-definition videos to your mobile devices will eat up your entire monthly data plan in just a matter of hours.

While not specifically social in nature the study further shows the disconnect between today’s standard of technology and the reach it actually has over users. Facebook this week rolled out a faster mobile application for iOS devices, announcing that more than 500 million users now access Facebook more often on mobile devices than online, a number that could steadily increase if broadband providers continue their slow trek towards mediocrity.



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