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THE MOST EXPENSIVE INTERNET IN AMERICA: CARE TO GUESS WHERE?

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Thanks to fiber to the home, high-speed cable service, and 4G wireless broadband, most Americans enjoy access to all the 21st century has to offer.

However, connection speeds in rural and remote parts of America lag behind the urban centers. Over the past two years, this rural broadband gap has been documented by the aggregation of a National Broadband Map, which identifies areas across the country that are underserved or lack broadband coverage altogether. The creation of this map was funded by the Federal Department of Commerce under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

One Economy, a nonprofit that helps low-income people gain access to broadband connections, and the New America Foundation, a partner in Future Tense, have contributed to the national broadband map by surveying America’s Pacific Island territories: Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands. In the process, we discovered that a combination of high prices and slow download speeds give our nation’s Pacific territories the dubious distinction of having the most expensive Internet access in America.

Because different Internet service providers’ services offer different packages of speeds for different prices, the best way to compare the services is the price of a megabit per second.

Of the three U.S. Pacific territories, Guam is the most fortunate. It sits at the intersection of several major undersea telecommunications cables, which gives the island access to tremendous bandwidth. As a result, the monthly cost of a 1 megabit per second (mbps) DSL connection in Guam (advertised speed) is very similar to the prices paid by AT&T and Verizon customers on the mainland. If a customer buys a faster tier of Internet service, the price per mbps goes down.

Prices in the Northern Marianas Islands and American Samoa are much higher.



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