It’s Not Just in Your Head, the Web Is Slowing Down

It’s Not Just in Your Head, the Web Is Slowing Down

iStockphoto
By Millie Dent

It’s not your imagination, and it’s not because AT&T — and possibly others — is purposefully cutting speeds to unlimited data plan users. The Internet is slowing down. The reason: Websites are growing in size, causing slower load times.

The average website is now 2.1 MB in size, compared to 1.5 MB two years ago, according to HTTP Archive, an Internet data measurement company. Multiple reasons can explain this increase in size.

Sites have been adding more content in an effort to drum up traffic, such as videos, engaging images, interactive plug-ins (comments and feeds) and other code and script-heavy features. Websites are becoming more and more technically advanced, and other sites have to keep adding features to stay competitive.

To keep up with the rapidly increasing number of users accessing sites on various platforms, developers are offering more versions of websites as well as apps to accommodate all devices, including smartphones, watches, tablets, and other gadgets. All of these versions require additional code, ultimately adding to the weight of a given website.

Then there are the advertisers who want to get the user’s attention by creating dramatic displays for their products that consume even more bandwidth.

Websites also want to know who is visiting their pages, both welcome and unwelcome visitors. New tools that track and analyze visitors have increased in popularity, as well as stronger encryption technology to add more security. These security measures and trackers require more code, again slowing load times.

Unfortunately for websites trying to keep up with the times, Google has just introduced a new ‘Slow to Load’ warning sign in mobile search results. Since mobile searches account for more than half of the total Google searches in 10 countries, Google wants to enhance user experience for those on their mobile platform.

Although the weight of a website isn’t all that contributes to slow loading, it’s a major factor. Other reasons include users overusing data, a poor connection, or a high level of traffic in the mobile network.

Google also changed its algorithm in April, so now ‘mobile friendly’ sites are ranked higher on search results, while those that fail to meet its criteria are ranked lower.

Although the internet is only slowing by a matter of seconds, it’s still slowing down. All the more reason for a user to become frustrated with a page that’s taking a couple extra seconds to load and go to a competitor’s site.

About 90% of Trump Counties Have Received Trade War Farm Aid

FILE PHOTO: A combine drives over stalks of soft red winter wheat during the harvest on a farm in Dixon, Illinois
Jim Young
By The Fiscal Times Staff

President Trump won more than 2,600 of the nation’s 3,000-plus counties in the 2016 election, and residents in nearly 90% of those counties – or more than 2,300 – have received some level of aid from the administration’s Market Facilitation Program, a $16 billion effort that compensates farmers for losses incurred as a result of Trump’s trade war with China.

Drawing on a new report from the Environmental Working Group, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump says the data “show the extent to which [the farm] subsidies overlap with Trump’s base of political support.”

To be fair, about 80% of the counties Hillary Clinton won also received some degree of aid, Bump says, but there are many fewer of them, given the concentration of her supporters in urban areas.

Overall, residents in more than 2,600 counties in the U.S. have received payments from the farm aid program, with the heaviest concentration in the Midwest.

Number of the Day: $1.57

iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

A new study from the Bipartisan Policy Center says that Medicare would save $1.57 for every dollar it spends delivering healthy food to elderly beneficiaries who have recently been discharged from the hospital. The savings would come from a reduction in the rate of readmissions to the hospital for patients suffering from a wide range of common ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure, diabetes and emphysema.

“If you were going to offer meals to every Medicare beneficiary, it would be cost-prohibitive,” said BPC’s Katherine Hayes. “By targeting it to a very, very sick group of people is how we were able to show there could be savings.”

Map of the Day: Navigating the IRS

IRS, activist lawyers to clash in court over tax preparer rules
Reuters
By Michael Rainey

The Taxpayer Advocate Service – an independent organization within the IRS whose roughly 1,800 employees both assist taxpayers in resolving problems with the tax collection agency and recommend changes aimed at improving the system – released a “subway map” that shows the “the stages of a taxpayer’s journey.” The colorful diagram includes the steps a typical taxpayer takes to prepare and file their tax forms, as well as the many “stations” a tax return can pass through, including processing, audits, appeals and litigation. Not surprisingly, the map is quite complicated. Click here to review a larger version on the taxpayer advocate’s site.

A Surprise Government Spending Slowdown

Wikimedia / Andy Dunaway
By Michael Rainey

Economists expected federal spending to boost growth in 2019, but some of the fiscal stimulus provided by the 2018 budget deal has failed to show up this year, according to Kate Davidson of The Wall Street Journal.

Defense spending has come in as expected, but nondefense spending has lagged, and it’s unlikely to catch up to projections even if it accelerates in the coming months. Lower spending on disaster relief, the government shutdown earlier this year, and federal agencies spending less than they have been given by Congress all appear to be playing a role in the spending slowdown, Davidson said.