Common sense might indicate that the best place to hop online would be in the vicinity of where the most Internet innovation is taking place. Common sense is sometimes wrong.
Silicon Valley might be where Internet sensations grow up, but if you're looking for a truly high-speed connection, you'll need to head about 850 miles north.
The FCC has put together a list of actual broadband speeds, averaged over 30 days of testing, in cities across America and overall, it's not a pretty picture. Even the top ranked city falls far short of places like Seoul, South Korea and Helsinki, Finland. But if you're looking for fast broadband domestically, here are the ten best places to find it.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 02 June 2011
You'd expect with the amount of data flowing in and out of the nation's capital that decent bandwidth would be a requirement. Washington just narrowly beat out Columbus, OH in the FCC's study, though, with an average download speed of 8.6 Mbps.
With the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and several affiliated brokerages calling the Windy City home, it makes sense that Chi-town would keep its online infrastructure up to date. Average download speeds in the city average 9.4 Mbps.
The City of Brotherly Love might be known for its history, but it's hardly stuck in the past. Broadband speeds there average 9.8 Mbps. (That puts it about on par with Ottawa, Canada.)
Tying with Philly for seventh place is Boston, a city that has a fast-growing tech culture. Among the companies that call it home are Raytheon, cloud computing giant EMC and Iron Mountain. Once again, average download speeds come in at 9.8 Mbps.
Phoenix is where the surprises begin to kick in for the FCC list. The city isn't a tech hub or central point for a financial or government group, but it boasts an average download speed of 9.9 Mbps.
The plethora of state and federal agencies as well as private contractors, along with the city's important role as a distribution hub, make fast Internet connections a necessity in Denver. The average download speed is 10.2 Mbps.
The only California city to make the FCC's list is more than 450 miles away from Sunnyvale, Cupertino and Mountain View. Though mainly thought of as a tourist town, it's also a key military asset, housing an enormous naval fleet. That military connection could tie in to the city's average download speed of 11.4 Mbps.
The city that never sleeps also never logs off. And its fast-paced population of 8.4 million people wouldn't stand for a pokey connection. Download speeds here average 11.7 Mbps.
It's hardly shocking that the city Amazon (AMZN) calls home would be near the top of this list. Add in Microsoft (MSFT) and Nintendo (NTDOY), which are both based in nearby suburbs, and it's one of the most tech-intense cities in the country. It ties with New York at 11.7 Mbps.
It's not just that Washington's capitol city tops this list that's so surprising, it's how dominantly it does so. Average download speeds here come in at 21 Mbps, more than twice that of most cities on this list. Not bad for a town whose population numbers just over 46,000 people.