The best and worst states at providing broadband

Ubiquitous broadband wireless and wired services are often taken for granted, but a new online tool shows that, like real estate, good service depends on where you are.

The Broadband Readiness Index looks at the broadband infrastructure for the entire United States down to the county level and overseas territories such as Puerto Rico and American Samoa. The tool is intended to support state, local and regional broadband planning initiatives.

Developed by Connected Nation, a nonprofit technology services organization, the Index assesses and grades counties' progress in reaching national broadband infrastructure goals set by the National Broadband Plan and the President’s Wireless Innovation Initiative.

The Index measures each county against each of these goals:

  • Universal access to broadband at 3 megabits/sec download and 768 kilobits/sec upload speeds.
  • 98 percent availability of wireless service as proposed by the Wireless Innovation Initiative.
  • 85 percent availability of access to 50 megabits/sec fixed networks, which is comparable to the National Broadband Plan’s goal for 100 million households to have access to these networks by 2015.

The index will be updated every six months as the National Broadband Map’s data is updated.

Among other statistics found by Connected Nation, 12 states were found to have the highest number of broadband providers (41 or more). They are: Washington, Oregon, Texas, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

States with the fewest providers (less than 10) were: Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana and Delaware.

The index also found major differences in broadband service between urban and rural areas. Most urban areas enjoy high broadband speeds. But the numbers drop for rural areas, with Alaska, Indiana, and West Virginia having some of the lowest overall broadband speeds for downloads and uploads.

For example, only 115 counties, less than 4 percent of the 3,219 in the United States, earned an A grade for broadband. But those 115 counties contain nearly a quarter of the U.S. population.

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Reader Comments

Tue, May 31, 2011 arty

Even 4G wireless exceeds this standard -- of course, wireless providers can CALL anything even a little better than 3G, 4G. So when a wireless provider says, "4G," it's NOT. The 4G standard is a very fast wireless signal with wide coverage and excellent strength. No wireless provider meets the real 4G standard. They have merely given themselves permission to lie to the public. (See previous GCN article on this.) The National Broadband Map linked above in the article did not show correct data in several of the areas I checked. For instance, it showed Verizon providing FIOS (100mbps) in Eastern Massachusetts. That's incorrect. They OFFER the service, but they cannot PROVIDE the service except in some of the big cities and spotty elsewhere. So the NBM merely reflects Verizon's ad campaign, NOT the true status of the system. A little like the 4G situation. Caveat Emptor.

Tue, May 31, 2011 S.K. Whining

You all seem to miss the concept. Broadband, high-speed wireless, etc exist not to serve the public, but to enrich their providers and the coffers of their political power.

Tue, May 31, 2011

How about one gigabit speeds, 100 times faster than a typical broadband connection!

Tue, May 31, 2011 Illinois

This is the exact same way we evaluate our educational system. Everything is skewed to the lowest common denominator. That is why we are falling farther behind most other developed countries in every aspect of society.

Sat, May 28, 2011 Missouri

Who decided that 3mbps down and 768kbps is the right goal? It seems very short-sighted given other the global push of other countries to drive higher speeds. We are painting our country into a competitive disadvantage by accepting slow standard speeds that can be easily provided by old technology dsl and 3G wireless. These high availability numbers based on this low standard just lulls our country into a fall sense of "broadband security". Other countries will just wave as they zoom past us on the information super highway!

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