Rich DC Burbs Pay $9.58, Rurals Pay $31.17/Mbps

The rich get richer while the poor get…slower? A new report by investigative journalist John Dunbar cracks open the numbers that are tightly held by the industry and found vast disparities in the quality and price of service based on how close to town. By comparing customer speed tests and surveys, he found that while folks in the low-income areas outside of the Washington Metropolitan Area pay slightly less for their broadband, those in the wealthier DC burbs are getting far more bandwidth for their buck. The poor are paying on average $31.17/Mbps while the rich are paying only $9.58.

If you’re on DSL, the farther you are out from the hub, the more it costs the provider to provide you with the same level of bandwidth (not so for cable). There is also the cost of putting in extra bandwidth down in an area with low demand. So it stands to reason that they would respond by keeping the price, what consumers largely respond to, the same while decreasing the speed. But what’s not kosher is that they keep rural customers in the dark that they’re getting much slower service than their more urban counterparts.

And you can make a pretty sure bet this secret tiering of quality of service isn’t only limited to the DC area.

If you want to see how fast your broadband speed really is, you can do a quick and free test at

Wealthy suburbs get best broadband deals; D.C., rural areas lag behind [Investigative Reporting Workshop]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.