Want Fast Internet? Live Near Rich People

What happens when you compare an area’s median household income with the average download speed for Internet users in that area? You find out what you’d always kind of guessed, that there appears to be a direct relationship between an area’s wealth and the quality of its Internet service.

The folks at Gizmodo took several looks at the geographic and economic breakdowns of towns and cities all around this country. Probably the most interesting one is demonstrated in graph above. While the data points don’t follow a strict line, one can easily see that areas of higher income tend to have higher download speeds.

So no, you can’t look at the graph and say that an area with a median household income of $60,000 will definitely have a certain level of download speed, you can say that those speeds are likely to be better than someone in an area with a $30,000 median income level.

When you look at the town-by-town breakdown of download speeds, you see that there are several notable outliers.

In spite of a median household income around $37,000, Ephrata, Washington, is quite literally off the chart, as its 85.54 Mbps download speed is nearly twice that of any other town. It just so happens that this town of only 7,600 has its own fiber network.

Another town on the lower-side of the chart’s median income range but with super-fast downloads is Trenton, GA. The town of around 2,300 people in northwest Georgia happens to have the third-fastest download times in the entire nation, just behind Kansas City, with its fancy Google fiber network.

Meanwhile, other towns at the top of the download speed rankings were much better off financially, like Millington, NJ, with a median household income over $130,000; Croton-on-Hudson, NY (median household income: $108,000); Westwood, MA ($120,000); and Randolph, NJ ($148,000).

The lowest median household income of the areas with the top 10 download speeds was McKees Rocks, PA, at only $22,400, according to the latest census. And yet, this town of around 6,000 people has the eighth fastest downloads in the nation.

Another interesting part of the Gizmodo study looked at population density and download speeds. While not as firm a correlation between these two factors, one can theorize that people in the most densely populated areas are being slowed by congestion.

For example, the borough of Manhattan in New York City has a median household income of around $66,000 (and a mean household income of $127,000), making it the borough with the highest level of wealth. It’s also the most densely populated borough in the city, with around 70,000 people per square mile.

But Manhattan’s average download speed is just average for the entire nation (18.43 Mbps) and is the lowest in all of NYC. By contrast, Staten Island, the least populous of the boroughs (only 8,116 people per square mile) has significantly higher than average download speeds of 28.50 Mbps.

You should really check out the all the charts and see what trends (and exceptions to the trends) you can spot, over at Gizmodo.