Variance in Telecommunications Infrastructure by US State

State Similarity Index - Infrastructure Category - Communication

The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar US states are to each other. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on infrastructure. 10% of a state’s technology score (2% of the overall State Similarity Index score) is based on telecommunications data from each state. This includes internet, cellular, television, and radio infrastructure.

Internet Access

The state with the best access to the internet is Washington, which is home to internet giants Microsoft and Amazon. In general, the states along the Pacific Coast have high percentages of households with broadband connections. These states have invested in infrastructure and policies to ensure widespread connectivity. On the other hand, many people in Southern states have less access to the internet. Mississippi and Arkansas have the lowest rates, primarily due to limited infrastructure development and socioeconomic challenges.

US Census

States were categorized by the percentage of households with a broadband Internet subscription:
70-73.33, 73.33-76.66, 76.66-80, 80-83.33, 83.33-86.66, 86.66-90

Internet Speed

States between Washington DC and Boston tend to have the fastest internet speeds. The high population density in these states encourages telecommunication companies to invest in robust infrastructure to cater to the large customer base, resulting in improved internet connectivity. It is no surprise the most densely populated state, New Jersey, also has the best internet speeds. It should also be no surprise, that the most sparsely populated state, Alaska, has the slowest internet speeds.

PC Magazine

States were categorized by median download speed (Mbps):
28-37, 37-46, 46-55, 55-64, 64-73, 73-82

Cellular Coverage

The quality of cellular coverage in a state is closely tied to its population density as well. New Jersey, the most densely populated state, has the best cell phone coverage in the country. Alaska is the only state where less than 50% of the land area has cell phone coverage. The coverage in Western states tends to be lower, since their population densities are lower and many people are clustered in urban areas. Their vast landscapes and mountainous terrain make infrastructure deployment more complex.

Whistle Out

States were categorized by percentage of land with cell phone coverage:
0-50, 50-75, 75-87.5, 87.5-91.66, 91.66-95.83, 95.83-100

Landline Usage

Americans are increasingly relying on cellphones as their primary means of communication, with over half relying solely on wireless devices. However, this varies across states. New Jersey and New England still having significant landline usage. Idaho has the highest percentage of cellphone-only households. Younger adults show a greater reliance on cellphones, while states with high poverty rates tend to have a higher proportion of cellphone-only households. States with higher incomes also have higher rates of both cellphone and landline usage.

24/7 Wall St.

States were categorized by percentage of households with only a cell phone:
27.4-33.1, 33.1-38.9, 38.9-44.6, 44.6-50.3, 50.3-56.0, 56.0-61.7

Radio Station Call Signs

Radio stations in the United States are divided into two geographic areas, the vast majority of stations west of the Mississippi River have call signs beginning with “K,” while those east of the river begin with “W.” Although there are exceptions and anomalies, this division generally holds true. The border between the K and W regions was initially located further west, following state borders such as New Mexico with Texas and Oklahoma. However, it was later moved to the Mississippi River, resulting in the distinction we see today.

Big Think

States were categorized by radio station calls signs:
K, W, Both

Amateur Radio Call Signs

Amateur radio call signs in the United States consist of a one- to two-letter prefix, a numeral, and a suffix. The prefix does not indicate a specific geographic region, but the numeral represents one of the ten geographically based call sign districts. However, one exception is that Hawaii is KH and Alaska is KL7. The suffix is a unique combination of letters chosen by the operator. Understanding these components allows amateur radio operators to identify themselves and communicate effectively within the community.


States were categorized by their callsign numeral:
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, KH, KL7

Cable Television

Cable TV household percentages vary greatly across the United States. States like New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have higher percentages due to urban areas and higher incomes. Conversely, Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming have lower percentages, likely due to lower population densities and reliance on satellite or streaming services. Evolving television consumption trends, such as the popularity of streaming platforms, continue to shape household preferences nationwide.


States were categorized by the percentage of households with cable television:
17-28.5, 28.5-40, 40-51.5, 51.5-63, 63-74.5, 74.5-85

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