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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