For small towns, having high-speed Internet can be a critical factor in growth and prosperity. Studies have shown that increased Internet access has a positive effect on employment and economic growth in rural townships.
While major metro areas like Dallas and Providence languish at the bottom of the nationwide connectivity scale, surprisingly podunk towns make it to the top of the list.
All of these best-connected small towns have one thing in common: the cutting-edge connection speeds and reasonable prices are delivered by small-to-medium sized ISPs. Clearly, small business and healthy competition alongside municipal broadband initiatives can create big rewards for both businesses and consumers.
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If you daydream of escaping the city smog to set up shop in a picturesque small town, these 10 small towns with blazing fast broadband prove that the small town dream isn’t dead in the Internet age:
- Preston, Washington
- University Park, Iowa
- French Settlement, Louisiana
- Nakina, North Carolina
- Flora, Mississippi
- Molalla, Oregon
- Monticello, Minnesota
- Mitchell, South Dakota
- Canby, Oregon
- Tullahoma, Tennessee
The tiny community of Preston is set in picturesque King County, just 20-miles drive east of Seattle and a mountain bike ride away from the Cascades.
Thanks to Highlands Fiber Network’s Quantum Gig plan, residents of this quiet commuter area enjoy blazing fast (1000mbps down / 100mgps up) broadband Internet for $70/month — faster and cheaper than most options in the big city.
…Not bad for a town of only 322 residents, making Preston the fastest speed relative to size nationwide.
Mahaska Communication Group is to thank for the incredible broadband speeds available in the sparsely populated former university town of University Park, with an impressively low $50 setup fee for 1000mbps up/down.
Small but funky French Settlement has two things going for it: Baton Rouge grit, and surprisingly speedy broadband. Francophiles and bayou buffs have no reason to go without connectivity down south. 1 GB up/down plans are available from Eatel, albeit for almost $150 per month. The company boasts overall positive reviews (70.3 percent recommendation rating on Broadband Now as of November 2015).
North Carolina is the 17th most connected state in the country, and Nakina shows that the title is earned even in the smallest towns. The small town’s population of around 2,117 enjoys 1 GB Internet from ATMC for less than $80 in a three-pack bundle, or just over $100 a la carte.
Plus, Myrtle Beach is less than an hour’s drive away.
Flora is one of those timeless one-street towns that you can drive from end to end in a couple minutes. But the speed-to-monthly-price ratio for available broadband plans trumps that of many major cities, giving the 5000+ residents something to brag about besides proximity to the Mississippi Petrified Forest.
You have to sign a 2-year contract for 1 GB broadband in Flora, but once you’re locked in the prices are great: $80 per month from C Spire.
Being a stone’s throw from Portland is always a perk, but the 15,000+ residents of Molalla don’t have to go into the city for blazing fast broadband. Creatively named Molalla Communications provides true 1 GB broadband for around $100/month.
For commuters and remote workers wanting to enjoy all that rural Oregon has to offer, Molalla is worth a second glance.
Monticello offers all the best of waterfront living along the northern neck of the Mississippi River, right outside of the rapidly revitalizing city of Minneapolis. FiberNet delivers 1 GB broadband throughout the town, which has a population of just over 18,000.
It’s a little pricy at over $170 per month, but the fact that a small city all the way out in the wide open spaces of South Dakota has 1 GB broadband is a feat unto its own. The weather may not be perfect, but Mitchell features some surprisingly sunny attractions, including the Corn Palace (pictured above) and the Dakota Discovery Museum.
Local provider Mitchell Telecom was the first ISP to bring 1 GB speeds to South Dakota.
The second town on this list to fall near Portland, Canby’s population of 22,688 benefits from true 1 GB internet through their own local provider, Canby Telecom. Clearly, local business has it’s perks. Small providers throughout Oregon provide impressive speeds at reasonable costs, benefiting from high consumer approval and the customer loyalty that comes with good service.
Tullahoma was the focus of a study by Allan Holmes of the Center for Public Integrity this year, which drew attention to the huge benefits that broadband access brings to small towns. The positive results on job growth speak for themselves:
Employment in Tullahoma lagged statewide job growth before the LightTUBe was turned on. Since the recession ended in 2009, two years after the city began offering broadband, the city has outpaced job growth in Tennessee. The city added 3,598 jobs from April 2009 to April 2014, a 1.63 percent annual growth rate, about double the statewide rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
LightTUBe makes 1 GB broadband available throughout Tullahoma for less than $100 per month.
small town, big picture
As cities get more expensive and telecommuting increasingly becomes the norm (21–25% of the US population telecommutes regularly according to a recent study) , living the quiet life in a small town has never been more practical.
Small towns like these with competitive, functional high-speed broadband internet hint at a future where small town America can once again become a viable force in the national economy.