Internet price, speed, and disparity: The case of rural healthcare providers in the United States

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Healthcare providers (HCPs) and patients are increasingly relying on telehealth services (healthcare provision over the internet) to provide and seek care. It turns internet access disparities into a health equity concern, i.e., poor internet access can contribute to poor health. In response, two federal programs in the United States – Healthcare Connect Fund and the Telecom Program – subsidize internet access for HCPs in rural or remote areas. I use a two-part pricing approach to examine the evolution of internet speed and price for HCPs that received internet subsidies during 2014–2020. I find that HCP internet is annually getting 30.77% faster and 5.23% cheaper. During the same period, the cost to subscribe to an internet service and the cost to raise bandwidth have annually fallen by 5.02% and 7.83%, respectively. A comparison of the trends between rural and urban HCPs suggests that the rural/urban divide in internet access has shrunk during the study years. It indicates that the subsidy programs likely have achieved their stated goal of improving rural internet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102674
JournalTelecommunications Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Internet speed
  • Internet subsidy
  • Telehealth
  • Two-part pricing


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