A new report shows South Dakota has the fourth most expensive internet service in the nation.
Analysts at highspeedinternet.com show on average, South Dakotans pay $7.17/Mbps, nearly twice as much as the national average and four times as much as more urban states like California or New York.
“I think most average customers are going to expect internet bills of $50 to $100 a month, depending on their needs,” SDN VP of Marketing and Communications Vernon Brown said.
Brown says there’s a reason people in many rural states have to pay a little more for internet access.
“It’s more expensive to deliver internet in rural areas because of the lack of density of people,” Brown said. “One mile of fiber in a city, you can get a lot of customers on it, one mile in rural south Dakota may have no customers, you may have to go 10 miles or five miles to get just one customer.”
Laying fiber can cost roughly $20,000 each mile or even more in some difficult landscapes.
“We have a federal project in the Black Hills right now that will cost 65,000 dollars a mile to lay fiber, but we have to do it, we can’t leave certain segments of South Dakota’s population without internet access or they will be left behind in today’s economy,” Brown said.
It’s why federal and state governments are partnering with private companies like SDN to help cover the expense of connecting more South Dakotans.
“There’s probably 15 percent of the population that doesn’t have access still,” Vernon said.
This year Governor Kristi Noem requested $100 million from the state budget to help upgrade broadband service across the state.
Brown says these public investments help take some of the expense off consumers. Whether you live in a rural home or in a larger South Dakota city, people across the state should pay about the same price for internet service.
And while South Dakota and several neighboring states may all be high in the rankings for the cost of internet service, Brown says there is a bright spot for all internet consumers.
“That per megabit price is coming down dramatically all across the country including South Dakota; internet prices are getting more affordable all of the time,” Brown said.