Stephen Neukam and The Hill
12 minutes ago
FILE – A home router and Internet switch are seen on June 19, 2018 in East Derry, NH (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
(The Hill) After the pandemic forced millions of Americans to return home to continue work and school, the importance of broadband access in the United States has come under the microscope.
While the transition has had dramatic effects on our mental health, the struggle has worsened in states and areas with poor broadband access. Federal and state authorities have earmarked billions towards closing the broadband gap, but many Americans may still be waiting a long time for high-speed Internet in their homes.
Here are the best and worst states for broadband internet in the US
The Northeast dominates the best states for broadband
There are two key considerations as to how good the broadband infrastructure is in a state of overall coverage and quality of those connections.
A February report by BroadbandNow Research, a research firm that conducts Internet company comparisons using data from the Federal Communications Commission and Internet service providers, compiled broadband data for all 50 states.
The report ranked Maryland as the best overall state for broadband Internet, followed by New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Washington. The rankings looked at overall broadband access, low cost broadband access, download and upload speeds, and access to fiber optic service.
The federal government considers broadband Internet to be any connection with an upload speed greater than 25 megabytes per second and upload speeds greater than 3 MB per second.
The state with the highest percentage of broadband internet access was Rhode Island, which has 99.8% broadband access. The top five states all had near universal access, all above 96%.
But Washington state stood out from the rest, with more than 54 percent getting access to low-cost broadband, which is an Internet plan that costs less than $60 a month. It is the only state in the top five with a score above 35%, and the only state in the country with a score above 50%.
Delaware boasted the highest average download speed, averaging 92.5 MB per second.
West Virginia at the bottom of the pack
While there are a number of states crammed towards the bottom in availability and speed, West Virginia stands out as the absolute worst.
The state, marked by Appalachia and farmland, ranked last in the report with a 65.8 percent broadband access rate overall. It also had just over 11% access to cheap broadband and an average download speed of 51.3MB per second.
West Virginia was followed in the report by Alaska, Mississippi, Arkansas and Vermont. All five states below scored a zero on Internet quality, or latency, which is the time it takes for information to travel from one source to another.
There were 16 states in the report that scored a zero in the quality category, including North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The state with the slowest average download speed was Kansas, followed by Alaska and South Carolina.
Alaska was one of two states to have 0% low cost broadband internet access, along with South Carolina. Vermont, New Mexico, Minnesota, Utah and New Hampshire joined West Virginia as states with the lowest tier, having an 11% access rate to low-cost broadband.
In half of all states, fewer than 20% of people have low-cost broadband options.
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