The United States is lagging behind many nations in high-speed Internet connectivity, coming in at eighth place with 26 percent of broadband of users on connections greater than 5 Mbps, Akamai’s "State of the Internet" report shows. South Korea has maintained its top position with 58 percent of broadband users surfing on fast connections, and Romania soared up the list to third place with 43 percent, nearly twice as high of a percentage of high broadband connectivity as last quarter. I posted an image of the country list below.

Walt Mossberg: Much of U.S. Broadband is "Crap"

Even the high-speed Internet users in the U.S. can’t compare globally: The 5 Mpbs high-speed benchmark is still slow compared connections of up to 1 Gbps in other countries. At the Beet.TV Roundtable in Washington, D.C. April 1, All Things D co-executive editor Walt Mossberg discussed the sad state of broadband in the U.S.   

"We really suck at broadband. We have terrible, terrible broadband," he says. "…768 kb per second is not broadband by world standards and our government has no broadband policy, and even if the FTC would adopt a regulation not allowing Verizon to call that crap broadband, it would help."

Mossberg also called on the future administration to take a hand in the matter. "We need some serious action from the next president to say that this is just as strategic as the Interstate highway system," he says.

President-elect Obama has pledged to do exactly that with the creation of the cabinet-level Chief Technology Officer post. The new CTO will oversee a national broadband buildout to stimulate the economy, Tom Lowry reported in BusinessWeek last month, and Dan Farber posted the official job description on his blog earlier this month:

"Obama will appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to
ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right
infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The CTO
will ensure the safety of our networks and will lead an interagency
effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of
each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class
technologies and share best practices."

The possible candidates for the position are causing a lot of buzz in the tech world, and quite a few names are being thrown around as possibilities. The BBC has a story today naming Eric Schmidt (even though he has publicly said no to the job several times), Tim O’Reilly, Ray Ozzie, Steve Ballmer, Jeff Bezos and Bill Joy as potential candidates for the job. Who do you think is likely to wind up as the nation’s first tech czar? Let us know in the comments section.

Chart from the Akamai Report


Note: Akamai based this report based on connections to its global server network which carries around 20 percent of the world’s Internet traffic a day. This is our second story about the Akamai report; our first post discussed global attack traffic. 

Things Are Speeding up Slowly in Some Parts of the U.S.

Some people are getting truly high-speed Internet. Andy has a 25 mbps connection via FiOS in his Manhattan apartment, and yesterday Comcast announced a plan for a 50 mbps connection on its cable network. 

Kelsey Blodget, Associate Producer