Is Arkansas Really the Most Competitive State for Broadband?

Arkansas, North Dakota and South Carolina are the three states with the most competitive broadband markets, according to a report released today by ID Insights and broadband consultant Craig Settles, president of Successful.com. For those questioning what makes these states so competitive, it’s the fact that no single provider — or even a duopoly of providers — serves a huge percentage of the state’s broadband subscribers. For example, in Arkansas the top two providers offer service to just 49 percent of broadband customers, whereas the top two ISPs in the least competitive market, Rhode Island, cover 95 percent of subscribers.

What’s more interesting is that the survey draws out a correlation (not causation, guys) between home values and income, showing that the wealthier you are and the higher your home value, the less likely you are to live in a place with competitive access to broadband. Plus, the more people online in your state, the less competition there is.

This may at a certain level be counter-intuitive. However, when you look at this one layer deeper, it begins to make sense. In more prosperous states where there are many users, and more wealth, this tended to attract the largest providers. As infrastructure was enabled and larger providers began to dominate markets, it became increasingly difficult for new entrants to establish themselves.

Competition, or the lack of it, is one of the key reasons the U.S. lags behind in broadband speeds, and can also be tied to anti-competitive tactics such as tiered broadband. The Federal Communications Commission hopes to address the lack of competition with mobile broadband and better data, which this report helps provide, but I’m not holding out for a any miracles of access technology coming to my home unless Google chooses Austin for its experimental fiber network. Below is a list of the top 20 states, and the full report can be found here.

  1. Arkansas
  2. North Dakota
  3. South Carolina
  4. Nebraska
  5. California
  6. Alabama
  7. Missouri
  8. Indiana
  9. Texas
  10. Kentucky
  11. West Virginia
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Minnesota
  14. Florida
  15. Montana
  16. Connecticut
  17. North Carolina
  18. South Dakota
  19. Oregon
  20. Michigan

Image courtesy of Flickr user OakleyOriginals

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