Virginia beat out every other state in the nation in terms of Internet accessibility by having the fastest Internet speeds. That means residents of the Old Dominion enjoy less buffering in their YouTube videos, faster music downloads and generally just do everything online quicker than the rest of the country.

What’s So Special About Virginia?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason Virginia has such high Internet speeds, but we can speculate based upon common reasoning. The top five states with the highest Internet speeds have one thing in common – denser populations in smaller areas. Virginia ranks 14th in terms of population density and is home to a large portion of the D.C. metro area. It’s also the 12th most populated state in the nation, as of 2013.

It’s reasonable to assume, because of Virginia’s population density, Internet providers are more abundant than in states with smaller populations, like Wyoming or Nevada.

Virginia was once nicknamed the “Internet Capital of the World” due to its wealth of Internet service providers. Today it has over 70 providers within state borders. Virginia also has ten providers of fiber-optic Internet service, which is the best currently available on the market. Fiber-optic services reach 45.4 percent of the population in the entire state.

At one point, the highest download speed in Virginia was 1024 Mbps, which we can assume is most likely due to Internet speeds available to government agencies.

In fact, the government might be the biggest cause of the state’s high Internet speeds. Virginia contains a majority of government agencies with access to better service providers than most rural areas. In addition to most government officials working out of the D.C. metro area, the CIA also calls Virginia home.

By the Numbers

So how much faster is Virginia, exactly? Well, the average Internet speed across the nation is currently 10 megabits per second, according to online traffic routing company Akamai. While 10 Mbps is adequate for most general uses, it’s not exactly prime speed for watching Netflix or YouTube. With a 10 Mbps connection, you’ll generally suffer instances of lag or buffering, leaving you waiting in frustration for your video to load.

Virginians enjoy average speeds of 13.7 Mbps, enabling them to watch unbroken scenes of “Breaking Bad” to their hearts’ content. Virginia is followed closely by Delaware and Massachusetts, each with average connection speeds of 13.1 Mbps.

On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska claims the slowest Internet speeds across the country at only 7.0 Mbps. They’re the ones who spend hours waiting for Microsoft updates to install.

Taking a Step Back

Though Virginia is the fastest in the United States it doesn’t hold a candle to Internet speeds around the world. The U.S. is below the average for highest Internet speeds and stands at 10th place. South Korea currently has the fastest at 23.6 Mbps, with Japan in second. This means that they can download entire episodes of TV shows in the time it takes you to download the latest One Direction song.

More populated states don’t necessarily have the highest speeds as some might assume. California operates at 10.9 Mbps, New York at 11.5 Mbps and Texas, the country’s second biggest state, has Internet speeds of 9.4 megabits per second. The East Coast dominates when it comes to highest average Internet speeds.

It might surprise you to know that, even though they’re still at the top, Virginia has slower Internet speeds than it did a year ago. The Old Dominion’s speed actually dropped by 4.3 Mbps between this year and last.

Why does it matter?

Well, there are indications that states with higher Internet speeds also have more intelligent people living there. Aside from that, faster Internet speeds aid in business and promote productivity as well as the spread of information. It also allows you to watch YouTube videos without all that annoying buffering, which is really what most people probably want.

It should be pointed out, while Virginia stands at the top of the heap, the U.S. as a whole is woefully behind where it should be in terms of Internet speeds. Virginians might be able to brag, but they can’t brag too much.

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Photo: Skip Steuart/Flickr