LANSING — Among the 10 states with the fastest Internet connectivity in the U.S., Michigan led the nation in growth of Internet speeds over the last year, according to Akamai’s new State of the Internet Report.
Michigan’s 11.8 Mbps average connection speed in the first quarter of 2014 placed the state ninth in the nation, but Michigan had the largest yearly increase in average connection speed among the 10 “fastest” states, at 42 percent. Among the top 10 states, Michigan also led the way in the growth of broadband connections above the 10 Mbps speed threshold, with 101 percent growth over the last year.
“This report validates that the work we are doing to increase broadband access and use and higher-speed connectivity across Michigan is paying dividends,” said Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan’s executive director.
“Michigan’s efforts to increase high-speed Internet — especially in rural areas — have made it a national leader,” said Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman John D. Quackenbush. “This noteworthy report validates the importance of expanded broadband to Michigan communities — both large and small. They know that access to reliable high-speed networks, the digital literacy of their residents, and the use of online resources locally for business, agriculture, government, and leisure are part of their future success.”
The Akamai report aligns with the data released by Connect Michigan earlier this summer that showed that 83.4 pecent of Michigan households have access to fixed broadband at a minimum of 100 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload, a 60 percentage point increase in availability at this speed tier combination since October 2011.
Among the programs that is driving faster Internet in Michigan is Connect Michigan’s Connected Community Engagement Program, which entails forming local teams to assess the technology landscape in communities and then developing a comprehensive technology action plan tailored for each community. Once certain criteria are met for broadband access, adoption, and use, communities are eligible to become certified Connected communities. The program has produced 10 certified Connected communities in Michigan, with 20 more communities currently working toward certification.
“Despite these positive developments, we need to recognize that there are regions in our state without access to broadband service at higher speed tiers and continued efforts to expand availability and increase speeds are needed,” Frederick said.
Next month, Connect Michigan, in conjunction with the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, will host the 2014 Michigan Broadband Conference.
The event will be held on Oct. 29 at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing, and will bring together community leaders from education, libraries, economic development, local government, healthcare, and technology sectors to share and learn best practices for expanding broadband access, adoption, and use throughout the Great Lakes State and region.
Some of the topics that will be covered at this year’s conference include leveraging technology for economic development, rural infrastructure, women in technology, broadband for libraries and schools, technology for tourism and small businesses, and Internet access for an aging population.
Sponsorship opportunities for the conference are still available and can be found here. For more information and to register, visit the conference website at connectmi.org/broadband-summit.