Washington gets less bang for its buck on broadband, survey says
By John Dunbar
Washingtonians get less bang for their broadband buck than every state in the nation except Alaska, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Washington subscribers pay $43.72 a month for broadband, the fifth-highest amount among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. And when you factor in connection speeds, the deal seems even worse.
The median monthly cost for broadband in the District was $11.93 per megabit per second (Mbs), according to Ookla, the Seattle-based technology company that conducted the survey. That’s nearly double the national median cost of $6.13 Mbps.
Megabits per second is a measure of how fast data travels through transmission lines. The greater the “throughput,” the better the service is for customers. Depending on a variety of factors, a speed of one or two Mbps is sufficient to deliver good quality video.
Compared with the rest of the world, the United States ranked 20th in the Ookla survey when it comes to lowest cost per megabit. The top five nations with the lowest cost were: Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania.
But when considering personal wealth, the countries with the best broadband value were Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. By that measure (mean broadband subscription cost divided by the gross domestic product per capita), the United States ranked 12th.
The surveys were completed by people who used the company’s popular connection speed test, which gets about a million hits per day, globally. They were asked to report the price they pay for broadband, as well as their advertised speed. For the District, 627 surveys were completed. The survey was conducted from June 8 to Oct. 4.
Broadband in the District is dominated by Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., with RCN Communications Inc. also providing service in some areas.
Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said the average cost for Comcast’s most popular speed tier is $3.75/Mbps – "well under the study’s reported D.C. median.” Douglas said Comcast has invested in its infrastructure, which has increased speeds.
Verizon spokesman David Fish said Verizon customers in the District receive broadband service for as low as $19.95 per month and the company’s FiOS service delivers speeds up to 50 Mbps downstream.
Comcast and Verizon are both customers of Ookla, as is the Federal Communications Commission.
To check your connection speed, go to www.speedtest.net.
Message from Cecilia Kang: The guest post comes from John Dunbar of American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop. John and I are working together on a project for the next several months looking at disparities of broadband access in Washington. The Obama administration has promised to expand high-speed Internet connections to all American homes. We look here, in the back yard of the nation’s capital, at the quality, speed and price of connections for residents.
You’ll be seeing more from us here on Post Tech and in The Washington Post. Please reach out to us at email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org for your thoughts, questions and suggestions.
photo credit: dosmananzas.com
| October 6, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Broadband, Comcast, Consumers, Digital Divide, FCC
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