10 States With the Most and Least Access to Internet Broadband Service

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The average broadband speed across the 50 United States and the District of Columbia topped 10 megabits per second (Mbps) at the end of 2016. The average global broadband speed was 7 Mbps. But average U.S. broadband speed does not even make the global top 10, and in many places in the United States does not even come close to the global average.

The world’s fastest internet broadband service is available in South Korea — a blazing 26.1 Mbps. That is the only country that meets the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) definition of high-speed broadband at 25 Mbps, according to the latest report from Akamai.

Looked at state by state, there are 18 states where more than 90% of the state’s residents have access to 25-Mbps broadband internet, according to data from BroadBandNow. In only two states do less than 70% of residents have access to high-speed broadband.

Where broadband is scarce, so are people, and where people are scarce, so are broadband providers. Fewer than 21 million people live in the 10 states with the least access to broadband and of those about 72% have access to broadband internet service. By contrast, more than 97% of New York state’s nearly 20 million residents have access to broadband.

The FCC, under new Trump-appointed chairman, Ajit Pai, plans to reverse the net neutrality rules backed by Obama-appointed FCC chairman Tom Wheeler that categorized internet service as a common carrier. Among other things, that meant that the FCC could provide subsidies from its Universal Service Fund to help pay for access to internet service for low-income rural and urban Americans in the same way in has done for access to telephone service.

Pai told Recode last week that infrastructure investment has lagged in low-income rural and urban areas and that he wants to provide tax incentives for companies to build out in those areas.

BroadBandNow’s Duane Anderson commented:

The removal of net neutrality helps the large ISPs maximize profits, which they would likely argue would help fund new last mile infrastructure builds. However the underserved areas rarely see new infrastructure because they are almost always rural and represent little or no profitability for ISPs.

Here’s BroadBandNow’s list of the 10 states where residents have the least access to wired, broadband internet service, along with the percentage of the state’s residents either none or one service providers:

  1. Alaska: 42.54%
  2. Mississippi: 37.00%
  3. Alabama: 33.31%
  4. Arkansas: 31.66%
  5. Oklahoma: 30.81%
  6. West Virginia: 30.33%
  7. North Dakota: 30.16%
  8. South Dakota: 28.83%
  9. Montana: 26.59%
  10. Wyoming: 25.21%

Now here’s the list of the 10 states where residents have the highest levels of access to wired, broadband internet service, along with the percentage of the state’s residents with either none or one broadband service provider:

  1. Rhode Island: 1.60%
  2. New Jersey: 2.18%
  3. Massachusetts: 3.98%
  4. Connecticut: 4.25%
  5. New York: 5.48%
  6. Delaware: 7.49%
  7. New Hampshire: 7.63%
  8. Maryland: 8.23%
  9. California: 8.93%
  10. Washington: 9.16%