Net Neutrality Repeal Threatens Some States More Than Others

On December 14th, FCC Chair Ajit Pai and the Republican Commissioners voted to present a huge holiday gift to big ISPs by dismantling network neutrality, despite outcries from the American people. When we examined FCC data to determine how many Americans would be left without market protections from known network neutrality violators, the numbers were discouraging. Now we’ve reached into the weeds to analyze the numbers on a statewide basis. 

Percentage Of Population

The results reveal that a significant percentage of Americans will be limited to Internet access only from large monopolies that have a history of violating network neutrality and very strong incentives to abuse their market power. 

Some states with higher population benefit slightly from competition relative to others — compare Florida’s 40 percent to 65 percent in Pennsylvania — but this also reflects the anti-competitive nature of big ISPs that tend to cordon off sections of the country and respectfully stay within their zones. Other, more rural states, such as Wisconsin at 66 percent, have few options because national ISPs just aren’t interested in serving areas where population is sparse and the pay-off is a long time coming. Lack of competition means high probability of service from one of the big four known violators in our study — AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Charter.

In this chart, we've listed states in order of greatest percentage of impacted population: 

State Population Served Only By Big 4 Net Neutrality Violators % of State's Total Population
DE 756,350 80%
MA 5,204,104 77%
MD 4,110,198 68%
WI 3,815,361 66%
PA 8,361,856 65%
GA 6,471,665 63%
ME 834,424 63%
NC 6,265,838 62%
MI 5,962,699 60%
TN 3,955,073 60%
VT 361,647 58%
NH 717,457 54%
NJ 4,731,401 53%
IN 3,429,425 52%
OH 5,920,163 51%
SC 2,519,089 51%
HI 723,565 51%
CA 19,835,378 51%
IL 6,160,038 48%
KY 2,092,698 47%
AL 2,203,805 45%
VA 3,735,042 45%
FL 8,180,268 40%
NY 7,797,446 40%
MO 2,303,228 38%
DC 234,941 35%
MS 891,827 30%
WY 150,561 26%
TX 6,521,153 23%
LA 989,252 21%
OR 793,431 19%
WV 355,081 19%
NV 549,117 19%
CT 623,485 17%
MT 177,149 17%
MN 698,720 13%
NM 262,655 13%
AR 331,062 11%
CO 407,006 7%
ID 81,844 5%
WA 339,246 5%
AZ 251,655 4%
NE 61,583 3%
RI 15,644 1%
OK 31,600 1%
UT 6,246 0%
KS 5,417 0%
AK 0 0%
IA 0 0%
ND 0 0%
SD 0 0%

 

Here's the same data listed alphabetically:

 

State Population Served Only By Big 4 Net Neutrality Violators % of State's Total Population
AL 2,203,805 45%
AK 0 0%
AZ 251,655 4%
AR 331,062 11%
CA 19,835,378 51%
CO 407,006 7%
CT 623,485 17%
DC 234,941 35%
DE 756,350 80%
FL 8,180,268 40%
GA 6,471,665 63%
HI 723,565 51%
ID 81,844 5%
IL 6,160,038 48%
IN 3,429,425 52%
IA 0 0%
KS 5,417 0%
KY 2,092,698 47%
LA 989,252 21%
ME 834,424 63%
MD 4,110,198 68%
MA 5,204,104 77%
MI 5,962,699 60%
MN 698,720 13%
MS 891,827 30%
MO 2,303,228 38%
MT 177,149 17%
NE 61,583 3%
NV 549,117 19%
NH 717,457 54%
NJ 4,731,401 53%
NM 262,655 13%
NY 7,797,446 40%
NC 6,265,838 62%
ND 0 0%
OH 5,920,163 51%
OK 31,600 1%
OR 793,431 19%
PA 8,361,856 65%
RI 15,644 1%
SC 2,519,089 51%
SD 0 0%
TN 3,955,073 60%
TX 6,521,153 23%
UT 6,246 0%
VT 361,647 58%
VA 3,735,042 45%
WA 339,246 5%
WV 355,081 19%
WI 3,815,361 66%
WY 150,561 26%


What The Data Also Shows

Some states, like Utah, Washington, and Minnesota, reveal small percentages of people who are trapped in this worrisome situation. While there are likely multiple reasons for their good fortune, it should be noted that some states have taken steps to improve connectivity without any of the four ISPs in our study. Utah with it's open access network UTOPIA and Washington, where Public Utility Districts such as Grant County provide infrastructure for competition, encourage options and better services, especially in rural areas. Minnesota also has a strong tradition of cooperatives; several municipal networks bring high-quality connectivity to local communities. Many of the ISPs that serve these communities have come out publicly against revoking network neutrality and have policies in place to adhere to its tenets.

Worse Than We Expected 

When we decided to take on this analysis, we knew that the FCC's plan to let the market protect subscribers through competition was a weak one. After examining the Commission's own data, we know now that it leaves significant segments of Americans at risk and vulnerable to the whims of already powerful ISPs. FCC Chairman Pai and the other Republican Commissioners appear poised next to tell rural Amreicans that mobile Internet access is "good enough." We wonder how much farther corporate interests can go before the backlash is too strong.