Surfing's not up to speed on Internet in Aloha State
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By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Sean Hao
Hawai'i may be one of the best ocean surfing spots, but when it comes to surfing the Internet, the Aloha State is among the worst, according to a survey by PC Magazine.
Hawai'i has the second-slowest average Internet speeds in the nation, behind only Alaska, the magazine reports in its June 26 issue.
Connecticut posts the fastest average Internet speeds at 209.2 kilobits (thousand bits of data) per second. The results are based on nearly 40,000 Internet users who tested the speed of their connection via a PC Magazine software program.
"With an average speed of 87 kilobits per second, the best surfing in Hawai'i is outdoors," the magazine quipped on its Web site.
Overall, the survey found that cable-based Internet service providers are faster than a digital subscriber line, or DSL. However, the magazine lists Hawaiian Telcom's DSL as Hawai'i's "best bet" Internet service in terms of speed with an average of 130.8 kilobits per second. Oceanic Time Warner Cable's RoadRunner service had an average speed of 104.6 kilobits per second, according to PC Magazine.
Oceanic Cable said the survey's findings are erroneous. "It's just wrong," said Alan Pollock, vice president of marketing for Time Warner Oceanic Cable. "We're much faster than Hawaiian Tel. It's not even close."
Oceanic offers RoadRunner customers 5 megabit-per-second (5 million bits of data per second) download speeds; Hawaiian Telcom offers download speeds of up to 3 megabits per second. Oceanic's reported speeds could have been lower if some survey respondents were in rural areas that don't have access to full 5-megabit-per-second speeds, Pollock said.
Mike McHale, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Hawaiian Telcom, agreed with the company's relative ranking, but disagreed with Hawai'i's low ranking.
"I don't agree what they're saying is going on in the market," he said. "I feel we're faster than that."
The reason for Hawai'i's slow speeds was unclear.
"Hawai'i's numbers are lower, I think, because of physical limitations in getting data out there," said PC Magazine executive editor Jeremy Kaplan. "That's just a hypothesis, I don't have physical evidence of that, of course."
ISOLATION NOT FACTOR
Oceanic and Hawaiian Telcom said Hawai'i's geographic isolation should have no bearing on Internet speeds.
PC Magazine said its test is meant to measure real-world effective Internet speeds. The magazine's downloadable SurfSpeed program grabs pages from multiple sites with varying amounts of bandwidth. SurfSpeed initiates multiple connections to get all of the page elements. Each connection takes time, and that becomes a part of the SurfSpeed equation, the magazine said.
That measurement more accurately reflects how browsers spend 90 percent of their time on the Web: surfing or waiting for a page to load. Data was collected from tests from May 3, 2006, to April 5.
Kaplan would not disclose the number of Hawai'i users who participated in the study.
"I'd prefer not to list how many users we had for each individual state, but I'd allow that we had several hundred from Hawai'i, and tens of thousands from across the country," he wrote in an e-mail to The Advertiser.
"The numbers are statistically significant, having filtered them in a number of different ways to ensure that each entry was valid and that we had enough entries per state and per ... (Internet service provider) to have a valid rating."
Reach Sean Hao at firstname.lastname@example.org.