A study finds Iowa is improving but is still among the slower states in terms of Internet connections.

The study by the Communication Workers of America tested the speed of the last mile of Internet users’ hook-ups, what tends to be the slowest mile.

Annie Hill, the C-W-A’s executive vice president, says Iowa ranked 35th in the U.S., which is up from 43rd last year. Hill says Internet speed is vital to a state’s development.

“There’s actually real-time examples when you look at how it improves rural economies,” Hill says. “The U.S.D.A. just put out a report that says rural areas that adopted broadband have a much stronger economic background than those that didn’t.” She says the C-W-A’s “Speed Matters” test is reinforcing the emphasis on the importance of increasingly-faster Internet connections to bolster economic growth, education, medical research, and more.

Hill says Iowa’s at something of a disadvantage, being such a rural farm-based state. “The states that are the fastest are the ones that are the most densely populated,” Hill says. “It’s where businesses that deploy broadband Internet often make decisions to focus on not only dense population areas but especially metropolitan areas. We look at the upper East Coast that has the fastest. The further south you go and the further west you go, states don’t tend to do as well.”

The fastest three states on the survey are Delaware, Rhode Island and New Jersey, while the slowest are Idaho, Alaska and Montana. Hill says Iowa’s speed -did- show a marked improvement in the past year, which is key for the state’s many industries, especially for agriculture.

“A lot of farming has become more technological and people rely on weather reports, information on soil conditions, they use it to check prices on whether they’re selling grains or animals,” Hill says. “Having access to the Internet is very important to running a farm in the 21st century.

“Hill says the United States as a whole ranked 28th in the world for Internet connectivity. The U.S. average download speed is four times slower than the number-one nation, South Korea. “