- Maryland has the fastest internet speeds of any state in the South, and the second-fastest in the country.
- Arkansas has the fourth-slowest average download speeds in the country at 83 Mbps.
- Suburban residents enjoy much faster speeds than their urban and rural counterparts.
- El Paso has the fastest download speeds of any major city in the South at 140 Mbps.
- Charlotte has the slowest download speeds in the region at 78 Mbps.
From Washington, D.C. all the way to Texas, the South region cuts across a wide swath of the country. It includes some of America’s largest cities as well as some of its most rural counties. When you zoom in on the state of the internet in the South, you see a microcosm of the digital divide in the U.S.
Internet speed in the South is closely tied to income and population density. Wealthier states with higher suburban and urban populations received faster internet speeds, while rural populations with lower household incomes received much slower speeds.
Maryland tops the list of states in the South for internet speed with averages of 140 Mbps download and 68 upload — good for second fastest in the nation behind its neighbor New Jersey. It also has the highest median household income in the region and the second highest population density after Washington, D.C.
On the other end of the list, Arkansas has the slowest speeds in the South, the fourth lowest median income, and the third lowest population density.
Suburbs have the fastest internet speeds in the South
Rural towns are stuck with fewer options and slower speeds
- Fixed wireless and satellite internet are the only options in many rural areas. These download speeds often top out around 100 Mbps.
- Hot Springs, AR; Lanexa, VA; Canton, NC; Keller, VA; Murchison, TX; and Montalba, TX all ranked in the bottom 10 for download and upload speed.
- Hot Springs, AR, has unusually slow speeds for a town of its size. WEHCO video is the only cable internet provider in the area, and its plans top out at 50 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
72% of rural Americans said they had a home broadband connection, compared to 77% of urban residents and 79% of suburban residents, according to a Pew Research Center report.
El Paso has the fastest internet speeds of any major city in the South
- While cities typically offer plenty of options for internet, urban residents have lower median household incomes than their suburban counterparts. This may translate to urban residents opting for slower internet plans.
- El Paso residents enjoy the fastest speed internet speeds of any city in the South, with fiber internet from AT&T and cable internet from Spectrum widely available.
- Charlotte had the slowest average speeds of any major city, with just 78 Mbps download and 35 Mbps upload.
Internet prices vary widely by state in the South
Overall, internet prices in the South are all over the map. The District of Columbia has the country’s cheapest average prices by a mile at $29.75/mo. North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana all rank in the bottom 10 for affordability in the country, with average prices above $45/mo. in each state.
For this report, the Allconnect team analyzed internal data from over 200,000 speed tests in the United States collected between June 2020 to March 2023. We also analyzed pricing information from the NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program for average internet pricing information. We relied on data from the U.S. Census Bureau for information on population and income and from the Pew Research Center for internet statistics.
The bottom line
The state of the internet in the South is a snapshot of the digital divide in the U.S. Affordability and access are the two main ingredients in fast internet, and suburban residents enjoy the best of both worlds: high enough population density that providers build fiber and cable infrastructure plus enough income to opt for their fastest plans. Cities often have plenty of options for internet, but internet plans aren’t always affordable. And in my rural areas in the South, residents only have slower satellite, fixed wireless, and DSL providers to choose from.
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Written by:Joe Supan
Principal Writer, Broadband Content
Joe Supan is a principal writer for Allconnect and CNET. He has helped build the proprietary metrics used on Allconnect’s review pages, utilizing thousands of data points to help readers navigate these complex… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content