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how internet speeds vary across the united states

While the United States is one of the most developed and technologically advanced nations in the world no matter how you look at it, the simple fact remains that when it comes to universal internet access, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. People trying to ​download a recipe​ or read a travel blog online might have to wait a while simply because there aren’t many good options where they live and they don’t want to use their data plan. Indeed, there are differences you should know about, especially if you plan on travelling or moving.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Apples, Oranges, and Pears

The first thing you should know is that internet service plans are not alike, and while speed is vital, it can be measured in a few ways. You might care much more about consistency than top speeds, and you’ll need to look at different factors for that. You might be a remote worker or creative professional who needs a relatively high upload speed. Other things such as customer service and the equipment to be used are other factors as well, and worth consideration.

Also, the method you receive service matters a great deal. A DSL connection will usually be inferior to a fiber optic connection or even in most cases a cable internet connection. Satellite service has both its advantages and disadvantages compared to other service types.

In summary, make sure you don’t treat download speed as the be all and end all, and consider other factors as well.

Urban Versus Rural

In general, it doesn’t make sense to talk about varying internet speeds across normal dividing lines such as townships and states. Instead, the greatest differences you’ll usually find revolve around major population centers, as they naturally might according to consumer demand and potential installation base. Sadly, multiple ISPs are not going to compete over a township of 100 people.

For example, if you were to take a look at some of the internet options around Fort Worth, Texas, you’d find that ​they’re completely different​ from the parts of Texas that are mostly wilderness and have few residents. However, in suburbs with greater metropolitan areas, most people can find good or even great internet. Whether ISPs find it’s worth the investment for new infrastructure or whether they know they can utilize existing cable or phone lines (and in some cases existing fiber optic lines), they know they can get a return on their investment.

Unfortunately, in some of the most remote areas in the country, you might find that the only options are extremely slow dial up (heaven forbid) or DSL internet, or the acceptable but limited and expensive satellite internet. On top of this people might be able to get an unlimited data plan,

but that can make matters more difficult for people wishing to use a proper laptop or desktop setup, even if they do know how to turn their phone into a hotspot.

Differences in Regions

However, just going by the urban versus rural divide, there are certain general areas which have better average internet speeds. The coastal United States will generally have better luck, while many areas of the sparsely populated Midwest might be stuck with lower speeds and/or fewer options, save for the major cities. If you are moving or ​even just travelling​, take this into heavy consideration, as many people don’t realize how important fast internet is until they don’t have it anymore.

Ongoing Expansion

However, what is true now regarding internet speeds today might not be true a few years from now, and we expect it to turn for the better. Improving infrastructure, increased demand and competition, and a dedicated effort to stay ahead of the pack from many notable ISPs (along with competition coming in from ​tech giants trying​ to budge into the market) will push everyone forward, and hopefully even hit the more rural areas in time.

We might also, in the future, be able to use existing technologies in a new way. Cable internet used existing cable lines, and phone lines were used before and concurrent to that. Perhaps ​5G​ or later smartphone connection technologies will eventually become fast and cheap enough to supplant the internet connection models we already use, evening the field.


Whether you’re looking for new internet and want to get an idea of your odds or whether you are thinking about moving the whole house out into the country, you should know what you’re getting into in terms of internet speed. While to get specific data, you should look at a longer site or article that specializes in providing you with data and options, we hope that the above trends and principles push you in the right direction.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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