Demand for faster internet speeds soared as the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns forced consumers into remote work, students into remote education and businesses and consumers alike into online processes to replace in-person interactions.
But there was a significant difference in the increased speeds that internet users saw in different parts of the country, according to a new report from Whistleout, provider of internet speed testing technology.
The national average internet speed rose 40.1% from pre-pandemic to 2021, according to Whistleout. Before COVID-19, the United States averaged 84.5Mbps. Since then, speeds increased to a 118.4 Mbps average.
COVID-19 Internet Speed Increase by State
The report found that the states with the biggest increases in internet download speeds in 2021 were Alaska (170.2%), Idaho (77.7%), Kentucky (70.6%), Iowa (64%), Wyoming (62.6%), Kansas (60.3%), Maine (59.7%), Montana (57.7%), Oklahoma (57.4%) and South Carolina (56.1%). Only West Virginia saw a decrease in download speed in 2021, falling a total of 17.6%—from 59.2 Mbps pre-pandemic to 48.7 Mbps now.
By comparison, the states with the biggest increases in internet download speeds in 2020 were Wyoming (52%), Alaska (40%), Kentucky (37%), Kansas (36%) and Missouri (31%).
Despite these gains, the U.S. still trails other countries in terms of internet speed gains, according to a separate report.
“While trying to support these home connectivity needs, middling download speeds started to become a nuisance,” Whistleout said in its press release about the COVID-19 internet speed increase data. “Ultimately, internet providers saw the demand for faster, more reliable home internet and are making that happen across the United States.”