Follow us:

Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 29, 2010 at 11:36 AM

More details on broadband costs in Washington

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:

Thumbnail image for Ookla2.jpg

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.

Thumbnail image for ookla relative.jpg

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.

Comments | More in | Topics: broadband, Broadband, broadband speeds

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►