©2018 Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Michigan's Dial-up Speeds: How Slow Can You Go?

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Jennifer Kopp

Study Shows 56K Connections Typically Delivering 30K Transfer Speeds

Just how slow are most Michigan residents connecting to the Internet? Slow enough that a person wanting to download a two megabyte file containing a few family photos may typically wait 10 minutes for the transfer to complete, according to a study released today by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

“People using 56K modems and expecting close to 56K speeds are in for a rude awakening,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the MEDC. “This study shows that most Michigan residents face slow transfer speeds and long download times that by their very nature lead to frustrating Internet experiences.”

The Technology Policy Group tested twenty-five Michigan locations throughout the state, measuring connection speeds and download times for files of various sizes and using different transfer protocols. Testing was conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week over a two-week period to ensure accurate results.

According to the study, average file transfer speeds in metropolitan areas such as Detroit and Lansing hover close to 30K. Transfer speeds in most of the 25 areas studied never reached 40K, with several areas averaging in the low 20K range. Transfer speed refers to the speed at which information is moved from an Internet source to the user’s computer, and determines how long a person has to wait to view a page or retrieve files.

“Due to FCC regulations, a 56K modem using a telephone has a maximum transfer rate of 53K,” said Birgit Klohs, chair of the LinkMichigan Information Access Task Force that oversaw the testing. “Yet because of the volume of communications traffic on the Internet and quality level of the infrastructure, we see that actual transfer rates in Michigan are significantly less than that.”

The dial-up connection study is the latest of several commissioned by the MEDC to test the performance of Michigan’s telecommunications infrastructure. Other recent studies and maps released by the MEDC have shown that Michigan is only about average in terms of providing high-speed Internet access for Michigan residents and businesses.

According to Rothwell, slow transfer speeds discourage people from taking advantage of distance learning, starting Web-based businesses and many other opportunities available over the Internet.

“If home users get impatient when their information is creeping at the rate of 30K, imagine the competitive position of businesses that don’t have anything faster available to them,” Rothwell said. “We have a long way to go to be where we need to be in terms of providing Michigan companies with the high-speed access required to flourish in an information-based economy.”

According to Rothwell, the MEDC is currently working with communities to aggregate public demand and develop last-mile solutions for high-speed Internet access. A total of more than 470 community leaders -- representing 76 of Michigan’s 84 counties -- registered to attend recent public forums sponsored by the MEDC to address the issue of high-speed Internet availability and learn about planning grants the MEDC is offering.

The MEDC’s LinkMichigan plan offers recommendations to transform Michigan’s telecommunications infrastructure into one of the most robust and advanced in the nation.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.

Average Internet Transfer Speeds Via Dial-up Connections Listed by Community

Battle Creek

Sault Ste. Marie
Ann Arbor
Grand Rapids

Port Huron
Bad Axe

Traverse City
Benton Harbor


* Tests for Holland, MI are currently in progress.