Akami+broadband researchThe average Internet connection speed in the U.S. was 5.8 Mbps for the fourth quarter of 2011, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report issued yesterday. That’s an increase of 14% year-over-year but a 5.3% decline from the previous quarter.

According to Akamai’s research, however, less than half of U.S. Internet connections (44%) were made at speeds above 5 Mbps. The U.S. ranked twelfth worldwide on that measurement, behind several Asian and European countries.

Four in five U.S. Internet connections were made at speeds over 2 Mbps, according to Akamai, which might seem impressive until one looks at other countries – 34 of which exceeded the 80% level.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, Delaware regained its position as the state with the highest average Internet connection speed – which now stands at 8 Mbps. That represents a decline of 5.8% from the previous quarter but a year-on-year increase of 11%

Delaware held the number one spot in Akamai’s reports for many quarters but was unseated by Rhode Island in the second quarter 2011 report. Rhode Island is now in third place, with an average connection speed of 7.7 Mbps, just behind New Hampshire which had a 7.8 Mbps connection speed. Five of the other 10 states with the highest average connection speed were in the East – including Vermont, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland.

The only non-Eastern states in the top 10 were Utah and California. All states in the top 10 had average connection speeds of 6.6 Mbps or higher.

The East coast also dominated the top 10 list of U.S. cities with the highest average connection speeds. The Boston metro area and North Bergen, N.J. topped the list at 8.4 Mbps. Also in the top 10 were Jersey City, N.J.; Clifton, N.J.; Manchester, N.H.; Cambridge, Mass.; and Fredericksburg, Va.

The only non-Eastern cities in the top 10 were in California – including Monterey Park, San Jose and Fremont. All cities in the top 10 had average connection speeds of 7.6 Mbps or higher.

Akamai has been issuing its State of the Internet report, which is based on data gathered from connections to its Internet caching platform, for four years now and continues to tweak it. Moving forward the company said it plans to “identify additional collaboration partners that will enable us to present a wider, more holistic perspective within the report.”

Akamai also is considering adding a section that would look at the percentage of connections in a country or state that were made at speeds above 10 Mbps.