Decoding the Divide: Analyzing Disparities in Broadband Plans Offered by Major US ISPs

PROCEEDINGS OF THE 2023 ACM SIGCOMM 2023 CONFERENCE, SIGCOMM 2023(2023)

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摘要
Digital equity in Internet access is often measured along three axes: availability, affordability, and adoption. Most prior work focuses on availability; the other two aspects have received less attention. In this paper, we study broadband affordability in the US by focusing on the nature of broadband plans offered by major ISPs. To this end, we develop a broadband plan querying tool (BQT) that obtains broadband plans (upload/download speed and price) offered by seven major wireline US ISPs for any street address in the US. We then use this tool to curate a dataset, querying broadband plans for over 837 k street addresses in thirty cities for these ISPs. We use a plan's carriage value, defined as the Mbps of a user's traffic that an ISP carries for one dollar, to compare plans. Our analysis provides us with the following new insights: (1) ISP plans vary inter-city. Specifically, up to 60% of the census block groups in a city can receive low carriage value plans from an ISP; (2) ISP plans intra-city are spatially clustered, and the carriage value can vary as much as 600% within a city; (3) Cable-based ISPs offer up to 30% higher carriage value to users when they are competing with fiber-based ISPs in a block group compared to when they are operating alone or in conjunction with a DSL-based ISP; and (4) Fiber deployments, which have better carriage values, are associated with higher average income block groups. While we hope our tool, dataset, and analysis in their current form are helpful for policymakers at different levels (city, county, state), they are only a small step toward quantifying digital inequity. We conclude with recommendations to further advance our understanding of broadband affordability.
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关键词
Public Internet,Broadband Access,Broadband Pricing
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