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Life in the slow lane

Downtown Pocatello, Idaho.

Pando Networks just released new research measuring Internet speeds across America, and Pocatello came in dead last.

"There's a wide disparity in download speeds," said Robert Levitan, CEO of Pando Networks. "Some of the areas in the country that had high income levels, in particular cities, had very high download rates," he added.

Pando clocked the fastest average connections in the country in Andover, Mass., at just over 2,800 kilobytes per second.

"So, literally, you're 10 times faster in Andover, Mass., than you would be in Pocatello, Idaho," said Levitan.

Turns out where you live and how much money you make are closely related when it comes to blazing finding fast broadband. If you live on the either coast near a urban center, you're much more likely to have a speedy broadband connection. Folks living in the rural Midwest and the mountain states are less fortunate.

Christian Sandvig, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a faculty associate at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, says this means different parts of the country experience the net in very different ways.

Websites designed on computers with high-speed connections in San Francisco just won't work as well in Idaho or rural Iowa. Sandvig says that means rural residents with slow connections are more likely to see Internet as worthless. "When they try to use it, not going to look like anything that works well."

Sandvig believes just like electrifying rural America or building the interstate highway system in the '50s, building out a national broadband network would ultimately be an economic boon.

Also on the program, Damian Kulash of OK Go talks about his band's new video and how HTML5 turns dancers into kaleidoscopic magic.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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