You probably can't remember the last time you went without access to the internet for a whole week. It's become such an integral part of our lives, for business and pleasure, that we've started to think of internet connectivity as our inalienable right more than an optional commodity. On top of that, folks are consuming more and more data each month while streaming, gaming and working from home. Because of this, areas with less access to high quality internet may fall even further behind technologically and economically.
Analysis (details & data below)
- Almost All of the Worst States for Internet Speed, Coverage & Choice are Politically Conservative
- Utah Breaks the Trend with Low Population Density, Conservative politics & Great Internet (UT is 4th Best, RI, NY and NJ are top 3 with HI in 5th)
- Native Americans Are by Far the Most Underserved Internet Users
We used multiple data sources including the US Census, advertised internet speeds and provider coverage data to determine which American cities and states are most underserved. We used a proprietary algorithm, giving appropriate statistical weights to each of the data points you see in the tables below to create these national city and state rankings.
- Speed: With today's demands on bandwidth in our homes speed can mean the difference between being able to work from home, or not. We used a weighted average of the fastest speed you can possibly buy in the area.
- Coverage: Wired internet can't be installed everywhere in the world so population determines where governments and companies connect people. We kept our list of cities to those with population >50K, because we wanted to focus on large groups of internet-deprived Americans, not just small, rural towns where we already know it's tough to get wired service. We'll consider someone “covered” if they have access to at least one wired carrier.
- Competition: It often benefits the consumer when price and service wars cause companies to give better deals. Where there is only a single internet option, prices are higher and dissatisfied users have nowhere to turn. The areas with the best internet choice have a strong Cable, DSL and Fiber option available.
DATA & RANKINGS
The Most Underserved STATES in the US
(vs 496 Avg)
(vs 95% Avg)
(vs 2.1 Avg)
|#3||West Virginia||205 mbps||98%||1.8|
|#7||New Mexico||311 mbps||92%||1.8|
Current Elected Officials' Political Affiliation (2019)
|State||Governor||State Leg.||Senator 1||Senator 2||'16 Pres.|
Red = Conservative / Republican
Blue = Liberal / Democrat
The Most Underserved CITIES in the United States
(vs 570 Avg)
(vs 99% Avg)
(vs 2.4 Avg)
|#1||Hot Springs, AR||61 mbps||93%||1.6|
|#2||Phenix City, AL||71 mbps||97%||1.7|
|#3||Battle City, MI||73 mbps||98%||1.8|
|#4||Muskegon, MI||75 mbps||99%||1.9|
|#5||San Luis Obispo, CA||83 mbps||81%||1.6|
|#6||Redding, CA||90 mbps||95%||1.6|
|#7||Wichita Falls, TX||92 mbps||92%||1.8|
|#8||Greenwood, SC||95 mbps||97%||1.9|
|#9||Terre Haute, IN||95 mbps||98%||1.8|
|#10||Coeur d'Alene, ID||96 mbps||98%||1.8|
The Most Underserved Races in the US
8 out of the 10 Worst States are Politically Conservative
As angry as consumers tend to get at their cable or cell phone provider, you'd hope residents of the states listed below would pressure their own politicians to improve their internet experience in a way an ISP never could. Infrastructure is required for wired, fast broadband internet access and governments and municipalities are required to build that out. It's true that rural areas are more difficult and therefore more expensive to connect, but folks have electricity lines, water mains, sewer and gas lines just about everywhere. Should internet access be similar to other necessary commodities? That is what is being debated today.
Utah Breaks the Trend with Low Population Density & Great Internet
In Utah there are just 34 people per square mile. Compare that to states such as Washington (106) or even Colorado (52) and you'll begin to understand how rural it is. That being said, they've done a great job of connecting their population with high speed, quality internet. They're the fourth best and by far the least dense state to maintain that level of internet speed, access and coverage. Utah also breaks the trend by being a conservative state politically.
Here are the 10 BEST States for Internet:
Native Americans by Far the Most Underserved Internet Users
We combined US census data with provider coverage maps to produce the table above. Native Americans are by far the most underserved group in part due to the rural nature of their homes. But there also has not been much political energy poured into the issue in the states where it might make a difference in the past. There are bills in several states hoping to alleviate this issue for Native Americans and they obviously want it. It's just a matter of political will at this point.