This town has America's fastest Internet

Generally, the more wealthy areas get the speediest Web service, but a tiny city with modest incomes manages to buck that trend.

By Jonathan Berr Sep 9, 2013 7:28AM
Silver globe with twinkling fiber optic lines (© Tetra Images/Getty Images)When people think of the center of the technology world, places such as California's Silicon Valley, home to Google (GOOG), among others, come to mind. Other people might envision the Seattle area where Microsoft (MSFT), the corporate parent of MSN Money, is based. Now, Ephrata, Wash., should be added to this illustrious list.

According to Gizmodo, the town of about 7,600 roughly 180 miles east of Seattle, has America's fastest Internet download speeds, averaging 85.54 megabits per second, more than twice as fast as any other town. About a decade ago, the local utility serving the town, the Grant Public Utility District, installed fiber optics as part of its communications system. The speedy service is a benefit of that effort, says Wes Crago, Ephrata's city administrator.

"It's a major selling point for us," he said in an interview with MSN Money, adding that the town won't be shy about touting its Internet speed ranking, particularly as it tries to attract new businesses. "Nowadays, it's one of the first things that people ask about. . . . It's something that will be worked into a lot of the things that we talk about here."

Gizmodo found that people who live in wealthier towns tend to have faster Internet service. Ephrata, which is surrounded by wheat and corn fields and is near the Grand Coulee Dam, is an exception. People there have a median household income of $37,000, far less than other communities on the list. For instance, residents of fifth-place Millington, N.J., boast incomes of more than $130,000, while households in sixth-place Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., earn $108,000, according to Consumerist.

Ephrata's first-place finish shows that money helps close the digital divide but that some smart planning doesn't hurt either.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Sep 9, 2013 9:42AM
Fiber optic cable and fewer users equals faster speed. 
Sep 9, 2013 9:39AM
MSN, what would we do without your insightful and in-depth reporting.
Sep 9, 2013 10:15AM
I have Hughes Net for one more week, which is dial up in disguise.  I live in the boonies and would dearly LOVE to get even the TELEPHONE line internet.  Instead, I constantly receive Hughes' notices that I've used all my data up for the day when I hadn't even turned on my computer yet, let alone surfed anywhere.  I tried to do a speed test on my system (not the one THEY insist is the "true speed", either), but couldn't even load it because it timed out.  I'd move to Ephrata!
Sep 9, 2013 10:58AM
Send AT&T there! They will fix their problem!!
Sep 9, 2013 10:51AM
85.54! that's auling hass! it's so fast the 'h' couldn't stay in place.
Sep 9, 2013 11:08AM

LMAO, you call that a tiny town! Hahaha. I live in a tiny town, population 345. Now that's a tiny town!


Sep 9, 2013 12:43PM
As a resident of Ephrata WA, I don't consider it a tiny town but a small town.  Fiber was installed more than 10 yrs ago and at that time on the cutting edge since most people didn't even know what fiber was.  Our household was 1 of the first to have it installed and have enjoyed the benefits every since.   
Sep 9, 2013 10:17AM
now that you wrote this article...the company will step in and slow it down to make them pay more selling them faster service at a PRICE.....wait...isnt that what optimum does now...
Sep 9, 2013 11:12AM
except google fiber beta is in kansas city and has dl speed of 1000Mb
Sep 9, 2013 12:35PM
Wow, that's so fast! It's the minimum speed of providers in Europe.
Sep 9, 2013 12:03PM
85 mbps???  ROFL!! Japan has been offering 1 gbps internet for about 3 years now at 90 dollars  month.  And NO, the USA being larger than Japan has jack @#$% to do with why we cannot get their order of magnitude in speed of internet.
Sep 9, 2013 4:18PM
I grew up in this town! My parents still live here and my dad works for the Ephrata PUD! Whoot! 
Sep 9, 2013 12:50PM

And at $1,000/month this is one of the finest examples of how the Affordable INTernet Act (The AIN'T Act) is driving down the cost of high-speed Internet access.  The best thing about the Affordable Internet Act is that everyone is now able to purchase high-speed Internet access.  Unfortunately, due to the high costs of Internet access now the only people able to use the Internet are government officials who have already exempted themselves and their employees from having to pay the high fees.



Sep 9, 2013 11:39AM
I live in a very small town also.  I have been trying to get hi-speed for 14 yrs.  I am getting it tomorrow.  It goes very deep w/ all of this Govt. involved.  I did have dial-up yrs. ago and they did start installing fibre optic.  They had applied for loans to help w/ completion of course they were turned down.  The small business does not have a chance.  This all happened w/ the stimulus libraries got it which I can see but the small business needs it also.  Then we have a cable company that is so old fashioned no HD will not consider putting Hi Speed in.  They told me this is how the customers want it.  Well I was one for years but couldn't get anything better.  I sure wish a new cable company would come in.  The Satellite company which I deal w/ is very expensive but have decent programming but goes out as soon as you get rain.  Back to my original dial-up they would have TV & phone & hi speed package.  I sure hope they get help.  My hi speed will be installed by our phone co. Can't wait.  In between I have been using a jetpack from verizon it helped but not that fast.
Sep 10, 2013 4:08PM

I'm a customer here in Grant County .

80mbps download, 25mbps upload at $50 a month.

It's nice! and the county is a great place to live.

Sep 9, 2013 1:06PM
the fiber optic network in Newport Washington is faster, but then i'm not msn reporting 
Sep 9, 2013 12:50PM

I find it rather pitiful that as "Americans" we average slow to moderate speed while paying the highest data rates on earth. For the same to much less cost, nations like France average 100 MPS at a moderate cost of $40.00 US. Japan is much faster with the cost less than ours.

When the FCC and the mountains of technology hurdles get out of the way, competition will perhaps get better??

Sep 9, 2013 10:20AM
It also depends how fast the server that you are using is, because that also limits your download speeds.
Sep 9, 2013 10:47AM
This clearly doesn't take into account College campus internet speeds, which puts all others to shame. :D
Sep 9, 2013 11:33AM
some of the few that get a little bit of what the wealthy receive. weird.
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