Alaska broadband rates well above national average

Posted: Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A new global research database has ranked Alaska as one of the locations that charges the most for broadband Internet service.

Net Index, a service of Ookla, found that the value index for Alaska's broadband is $16.47 per megabit while the national average is $6.13 per megabit. The global average is $4.46.

Hanna Lane, Ookla's director for marketing and communications, said he guessed this difference to be related to the geography of Alaska creating difficulty in getting the access to homes.

Warren Russell, director for Southeast Alaska with GCI, said there are a few reasons for increased costs here. One is that cities here are smaller than those in the lower 48 states.

"Bigger companies down south have a lot larger subscription base so they can diffuse those costs over a lot more people," he said.

He said the topography and geography of Alaska also have a hand in higher broadband costs because they create inherent challenges in construction. The access for installation is often difficult.

"It's hard to build in a lot of places, especially in Juneau where it's a lot of hard rock and stuff," he said.

The state's large size is also a factor as populations are more spread out, adding to construction and maintenance costs.

Net Index data shows other local results. Juneau's download speed average is shown to be 3.46 megabits per second. Lane said this average is "much slower than everyone else in comparison." The national download average is 10.19 Mbps.

The data show's Juneau's upload average as 0.49 Mbps and the national at 2.25 Mbps.

The state did come out ahead in a few aspects. Alaska's quality index through the R-factor was 83.03 and the national average was 81.31. Lane said the R-factor for quality tests indicate impairments like packet loss and jitter, which affect online functions such as Voice Over Internet Protocol and streaming video.

"Above 80 is good," Lane said.

The data also shows Alaska as having a promise index of 95.65 percent. The national average was 92.87 percent and globally it was 86.9 percent.

Lane said the promise index is the percentage of speed or service that one is paying for and actually receiving.

"That means on average, Alaska gets just slightly below the advertised speeds," she said.

She said this is often caused by natural congestion and is common. She said almost no one hits 100 percent and that Alaska is doing better than average of delivering speeds it promises.

The Republic of Moldova had the highest promise index as a country, showing 109.21 percent.

Lane explained that Net Index gets its figures through its Speedtest service, which she said collects data from users about current prices and speeds purchased and compares them to actual speed results. She said the service gets approximately 1 million responses from around the world each day.

Lane said the numbers published on Net Index get updated each day and reflect the average of the previous 90 days.

Ookla is a global Internet testing service that tests speeds for broadband and web-based network diagnostics. Lane said their research has been used by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Federal Communications Commission.

"We're the largest provider in this type of data and strongly feel we're the most accurate," she said.

She said Ookla formed in 2006 and Net Index was launched in June 2010.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.



CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-3028
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING