Whether you use the internet to share memes, talk sports, or drive yourself to the brink of madness by following political news, one thing we can all agree on is that internet access isn’t always as easy as it should be.
Take the United States, for example. Internet quality varies wildly from state to state, seemingly at random. New Jersey and Maine might not look very far away from each other on a map, but download speed in the two northeastern states was dramatically different when we wrote about it last year.
The differences are stark when talking purely about speed, but looking at access paints an even more grim picture. BroadbandNow released its broadband access report for the last quarter of 2019, comparing how easy it is to get usable internet in each state without going bankrupt.
There’s plenty of data to chew on in that report, but we circled in on which states provide the most and least access to wired broadband internet for $60 per month or less. The results may surprise you.
Going strictly by that $60 per month or less metric, the five states with the highest amount of access couldn’t be more different. First up is Hawaii, which scored an astonishing 92.1% in BroadbandNow’s report. The island chain in the Pacific apparently doesn’t suffer much from its unusual geographic layout, as it collects high marks in most connectivity metrics. Good for you, Hawaii!
More understandable is second place Rhode Island. There’s not much area to cover in the nation’s smallest state, so it makes sense that 88.5 percent of Little Rhody has affordable wired broadband access. Third place California, on the other hand, is the third-largest state in the country and also one of its most populous. It’s hardly surprising that 84.3 percent of it would be covered by this metric.
Rounding out the top five are Texas and Illinois. The Lone Star State’s 79.4 percent coverage figure is interesting because BroadbandNow ranks it as the 30th most connected state overall. Its massive size and uneven population density might help explain why internet isn’t great for everyone in Texas, but cheap wired broadband is apparently accessible enough to put it on this list.
Illinois, meanwhile, seems to spread things out a bit more evenly since it’s considerably smaller than Texas. Its cheap broadband access score is 79 percent.
Just like the five best states in terms of affordable wired broadband, the five worst states each have their own unique flavor. First and foremost we have Alaska, which has a score of zero percent. You read that right: The country’s largest and northernmost state apparently doesn’t have a single ISP offering wired broadband for $60 per month or less, at least not according to BroadbandNow’s database.
That stood out to me enough that I reached out to BroadbandNow for clarification. It turns out you can get broadband speeds from GCI for $74.99 per month, which is close, but not close enough to count. Alaska is both the biggest and least densely populated state in America, with around 40 percent of its population in the city of Anchorage alone, so the unusual distribution of internet accessibility isn’t shocking.
Montana and Vermont trail Alaska in this regard with 0.8 percent and 1.2 percent of affordable broadband coverage, respectively. The two states are obviously pretty different, and those differences extend to connectivity. Almost a quarter of Montana’s small population is considered “underserved” by BroadbandNow, while Vermont’s overall coverage numbers are decent. Either way, both states struggle with affordability.
Finally, we have Colorado and Maine. Both states rate just fine in terms of overall internet availability and speed, but that $60 per month price point is hard to come by. Only 3.1 percent of Colorado fits the bill, with Maine coming in at 4.5 percent.
This data is fascinating because it demonstrates how decent internet access is stratified by income as much as it is by location. You can technically get internet in most places, but there aren’t always a lot of providers to choose from, and the ones that are available might not have cheap plans. With high-profile presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders pushing to change this in recent months, it might not be this way forever.
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- What’s the future of the internet — and society? – Technical.ly
- Astranis raises $90 million for its next-gen satellite broadband internet service – TechCrunch
- ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ proves the internet wrong – Houston Chronicle
- Gov. Mills: high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity – Knox VillageSoup – Courier-Gazette & Camden Herald
- New Report Finds Internet Users Overwhelmed by Identity Theft Worries – Yahoo Finance
- Never Mind the Internet. Here’s What’s Killing Malls. – The New York Times
- China to relax its internet restrictions for 100,000 students hit by Australia’s coronavirus travel ban – The Guardian
- Quarantine and chill? The internet is giving quarantined people a social outlet – Salon