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Vermont Loses Top Internet Speed Ranking

In the past state officials have taken note of Vermont’s highest-in-the-nation average Internet speeds.

The state has enjoyed that status thanks to rankings compiled quarterly by a company called Akamai.

But the most recentAkamai report shows Vermont has plummeted from the top spot clear out of the top ten.

And it raises questions about whether Vermont ever really had the fastest average speeds in the country.

As a content provider, Akamai records two trillion Web hits per day from around the world.

That data goes into a quarterly report on the global use of the Internet, including a section that ranks countries and, within the U.S., the largest cities, states and the District of Columbia.

For a succession of Akamai reports Vermont has ranked at or near the top of the list of states with the fastest average speeds.  No longer.

Vermont went from number one in the first quarter of this year to number 17 in the recently released second quarter report.

“Looking at a decline seen over a single quarter is of concern, certainly,” says  David Belson the author of the Akamai reports.  Belson says the change in Vermont’s average speed jumped out at him when he first reviewed the data.

What he discovered was that a block of 75,000 Internet addresses previously thought to be in Massachusetts appears to be located in Vermont.

These 75,000 IP addresses with below average Internet speeds represented a sizeable enough portion of Vermont’s online activity to drag the state average way down.

Belson says determining the true location of an IP address is both an art and a science, and the company is constantly refining its methods.

“We’re always making minor tweaks,” he explains. “But sometimes we make these larger updates like we saw here.  Vermont being a comparatively smaller state a shift of that size visibly impacts the numbers.”

It is likely that the 75,000 IP addresses previously thought to be in Massachusetts have always been in Vermont – which means in reality the state may never had the fastest average Internet speeds in the country.

Belson says Akamai stands by the data it publishes, and he says it’s more important to look at changes over a series of quarterly reports.

In that regard, Belson says, Vermont is showing steady progress in increasing average Internet speeds, although he acknowledges that certain bragging rights come with topping the list.

“There’s certainly no prize for being number one,” he says.  “What you really want to do is see ongoing growth, ongoing improvement.  I think that’s what’s most important.”

According to Akamai’s most recent quarterly report, the District of Columbia has the fastest average Internet speed.  New Hampshire ranks fifth on the list.  Here is the list of top 10 average speeds:

1. District Of Columbia

2. Massachusetts

3. Virginia

4. Delaware

5. New Hampshire

6. Maryland

7. Utah

8. New Jersey

9. Washington

10. Connecticut

Akamai State of the Internet Reports archive

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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