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State ranks 17th for Internet speeds

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin has seen an improvement in Internet speeds overall in recent years, but some rural areas are still limited by slow broadband that isn’t suitable for running a company or watching videos.

Wisconsin’s average broadband speed ranks 17th among states nationwide. That’s up from 22nd three years ago.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the average connection speed of 15 megabits per second is more than three times faster than it was eight years ago, according to Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies, which tracks broadband trends.

Akamai said Wisconsin’s average peak connection speed, 60 megabits per second, is now six times faster than in 2007.

“Is Wisconsin number one? No. But are things improving? Absolutely,” said David Belson, senior director of industry data and intelligence at Akamai.

At the same time, the percentage of U.S. homes with broadband access seems to be going down, now at 67 percent, down from 70 percent in 2013, according to a Pew Research Study. The Pew Research Center said the decline is happening at the same time as researchers are seeing an uptick in adults that use a smartphone only for Internet access and don’t have broadband service at home.

Thirteen percent of Americans are now in that smartphone-only category, up from 8 percent in 2013. The changes are more significant among African-Americans, those with low incomes and people in rural areas, Pew said.

“We are watching these trends very closely. … But I think the user experience of a wired option at home is still superior,” said Bill Esbeck, executive director of the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association.

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