A few questions have come up about the chart showing broadband costs in Washington that was included in the broadband report released yesterday.
The chart was based on data from Ookla’s Net Index service, which compiles connection speed data from Ookla’s Speedtest.net and pricing and quality information provided by Speedtest users.
The numbers shown are the median monthly cost per megabit per second, for downloads.
It’s a little confusing because the state’s chart – which we ran in the paper – doesn’t specify that it’s a monthly cost.
The state report also mixed up the Net Index data a bit, presenting the numbers as the “relative cost of broadband,” which is a different category of data. The “relative cost of broadband” is the mean broadband subscription cost divided by the gross domestic product per capita.
Further confusing things are the averages. The chart makes it look like you can get 1 Mbps broadband for $3 or $4 per month. That’s not the case. Most people pay for many more megabits per second, with monthly plans generally around $48 per month in cities, according to Net Index results.
Here are latest cost per megabit per second per month results from Net Index – based on surveys between June 8 and Dec. 28:
For comparison, here is the latest “relative cost of broadband” data from Net Index, showing the mean broadband subscription cost divided by GDP per capita. Of all these numbers, I think the mean broadband subscription cost is the most interesting since it shows what households on average are actually forking over for broadband.
This data is unfortunately based on pretty small surveys. The cost per megabit in Bellevue is based on just 250 surveys voluntarily completed by Speedtest users over the last six months. In Bellingham, the data is based on just 174 responses out of 21,899 IP addresses that used Ookla services.
The bigger question about the chart may be whether the state broadband office can use its $7.2 million to come up with better data on how much residents are paying for their Internet service.
Net Index is offering a nice public service but it’s most useful for gauging available speeds. These cost surveys are not complete or rigorous enough to be used as the basis for public policy decisions.