The average wireline broadband connection speed in the U.S. was 5 Mb/s for third quarter 2010, according to new data released this week from Akamai.   That number represents an increase of 8.6% over the previous quarter and 11% over the previous year, Akamai Director of Market Intelligence David Belsom told participants on a webinar today highlighting the results of the company’s “Third Quarter 2010 State of the Internet” report.  

Akamai has been compiling quarterly Internet traffic reports for several years now, and although some recent quarters have seen temporary declines, Belsom said the overall trend indicates that “connection speeds are getting faster in the U.S.”

The average peak connection speed in the U.S. was 20 Mb/s for third quarter 2010, according to Akamai, representing a 19% increase over the previous quarter and a 30% increase over the same period in 2010. This result “may indicate greater adoption of higher-speed tiers of connectivity,” Belsom said, adding that average peak broadband speeds are more representative of Internet connection capacity.

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Seventy-four percent of U.S. Internet users connected at speeds above 2 Mb/s, including 34% that connected at speeds above 5 Mb/s, Akamai said. Akamai’s definition of broadband is 2 Mb/s, Belsom said, but he added that the company is considering changing that definition to 4 Mb/s to bring it in line with the definition used in the National Broadband Plan.

Although the highest average connection speeds in the U.S. continue to skew toward the East Coast, where population densities tend to be higher, western and mid-western states are making inroads, the Akamai data shows. The highest average connection speeds (7.1 Mb/s) were still seen in Delaware, which has topped the list for several quarters. And four other eastern states—including Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts–and the District of Columbia, were in the Top 10 states measured by average connection speed. But Utah, California, Nevada and Minnesota also were in the Top 10. All states in the Top 10 had average connection speeds of 5.5 Mb/s or higher.

When the percentage of Internet users connecting at speeds above 5 Mb/s was measured, however, the East Coast continued its dominance. Here, too, Delaware topped the list, followed by New Hampshire, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, New York and Vermont, all with 40% or more of Internet users connecting at speeds above 5 Mb/s.  The only non-eastern state in the Top 10 was Nevada, which at 39% came in at Number 10

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