Well Connected

Published — February 18, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

District of Columbia’s poor pay triple for sub-par Internet service


Poor residents of Washington, D.C. receive the worst Internet service and pay three times more than wealthier neighborhoods, according to a recent survey.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University analyzed customer test speeds in the metropolitan area. The survey analyzed pricing by looking at the price of megabit per second, a way of pricing broadband by including speed of the connection and the monthly cost. The cost was $9.58 in wealthy zip codes, and $31.17 in poorer neighborhoods. Residents in poorer areas of the city might pay slightly less in their monthly bill, but experience significantly worse service.

The broadband industry has fought efforts by the government to collect basic information on service. According to the Federal Communication Commission, the lack of consistent and reliable information on prices and services makes it difficult for customers to evaluate and compare broadband carriers.

Earlier this week, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration unveiled its National Broadband Map. The map shows broadband service by census block, but does not offer price information, and the connection speeds listed are those advertised by the provider—not the actual speed. The map may help policymakers identify gaps in coverage, but is not helpful for consumers comparing companies.

Read more in Inequality, Opportunity and Poverty

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