Bakersfield Internet Access Facts and Statistics

Bakersfield has two primary wired internet providers: Spectrum cable and AT&T DSL. AT&T also offers fiber internet to some parts of the city. Outside city limits, internet service is sparse and often falls back to satellite providers.

Provider Network Primary network coverage Down Up
Charter Communications IncCable100%940 Mbps35 Mbps
AT&T CaliforniaDSL, Fiber97%100 Mbps20 Mbps
Vast NetworksFiber11%0 Mbps0 Mbps

Summary Fiber Access Infrastructure All providers

  • 85% of Kern County residents own a computer for home use. Low-income homes commonly report using mobile devices instead of dedicated home internet service.
  • 80% of Kern County households have access to wired broadband service of at least 25 Mbps.
  • The standard for broadband internet service in California is 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, matching the federal definition.

Digital Divide in Bakersfield

Census data shows that 85% of Kern Country residents own a computer for home use, and that 77% have broadband internet of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. (This is currently the FCC standard for broadband internet service, although California considers 6 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload to be “adequately served,” a stance which is controversial due to telecom contributions to lawmakers setting the standards.) 1 2 3

Bakersfield has a large low-income population in which 73% of public school children receive free or subsidized school lunches. This makes it an important area for public-private partnership programs between governments, nonprofits, and private telecom companies like AT&T. These programs commonly provide subsidized internet service for households that participate in school lunch programs, using school lunch or food stamps ID as qualification for the lower-cost service.

Summary of internet access in Bakersfield

8
residential internet providers in Bakersfield.
8
business-focused internet providers in Bakersfield.
2–3
internet options for most homes in Bakersfield.

We’ve found a total of 16 internet providers in Bakersfield: 8 residential providers and 8 business-only providers.

However, only 6 of those companies offer service to more than 1% of the Bakersfield population. 9 local companies offer niche business service to small coverage areas, mostly enterprise services in business districts.

Small business internet is commonly available from the same companies offering residential internet in Bakersfield. 7 of the residential providers locally offer SMB (Small-Medium Business) services at this time.

When accounting for over-reporting in FCC data and issues with wiring at the building level, public policy groups find that only 80% of Kern County has broadband internet available to purchase. 3

Bakersfield broadband lines on pole.
Outside the city, Kern County broadband access is sparse due to the high cost of wiring and serving low-population-density communities that often have low median household incomes.

While the situation is somewhat better within Bakersfield city limits, only 30% of census blocks within the city have fiber internet reported, and a substantial portion of that is only for business and enterprise, not residential. only about 20% of city blocks have true Fiber to the Home (FTTH) service for residential use. Most fiber to the home service is from AT&T, who has been replacing their copper DSL lines with fiber in urban California areas as part of a merger agreement with the FCC. 4

Wired internet network coverage in Bakersfield

Coverage by network type in Bakersfield is as follows:

99.96%
Cable coverage in Bakersfield.
96.66%
DSL coverage in Bakersfield.
38.03%
Fiber coverage in Bakersfield.

Spectrum acquired their cable network in Bakersfield from Time Warner Cable more than five years ago, and while they’ve been replacing nodes locally, some areas have reported regular outages under the increased usage during 2020’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Local internet service options in Bakersfield

Outside of city limits, greater Kern County residents are often left choosing between poorly-maintained DSL networks from decades past, or high-cost low-bandwidth satellite internet service. (See my article for more on the choice between satellite internet vs DSL internet service in California.)

While other major cities in California commonly have local alternatives from fixed wireless startups, this is not the case in Bakersfield. The only real “alternatives” to Spectrum and AT&T come from AT&T resellers, such as Earthlink and Sonic.

If your internet needs are extremely low, Earthlink has been offering very low-cost promotions for internet service on AT&T lines. They’re able to do this because of a regulation change that requires AT&T to share the line with them. The low-cost plans from Earthlink have very low speeds, but they can be a good alternative for households in Bakersfield that don’t quite qualify for low-income subsidy plans (e.g. AT&T Access) but can’t quite afford standard consumer plans from Spectrum or AT&T, which range from $30 up to $90+ per month.

Fixed wireless internet options in Bakersfield:

Provider brand nameNetworkFW coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
Applied Technology Group IncFixed Wireless100%25 Mbps10 Mbps
unWired Broadband IncFixed Wireless100%30 Mbps7 Mbps

2 Fixed Wireless Residential internet providers in Bakersfield with at least 1% local coverage with their fixed wireless network. These providers may have other network types.

Fixed wireless providers in Bakersfield are focused on the business market, and can provide bespoke wireless backhaul and connectivity for industrial sites with no fiber wiring in the street.

Fiber internet options in Bakersfield

Provider brand nameNetworkFiber coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
AT&T CaliforniaFiber19%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Charter Communications IncFiber4%940 Mbps35 Mbps

2 Fiber internet providers in Bakersfield with at least 1% local coverage with their fiber network area. These providers may have other network types.

Infrastructure challenges to broadband internet access in Bakersfield

The primary broadband issue facing Bakersfield and Kern County is lack of competitors. While wiring in the city is reasonably good, there are only two incumbent companies offering service. Outside more densely populated parts of the county, that number quickly drops to one (AT&T DSL) or zero (in which case rural homes are left with satellite internet as the only choice).

Public internet service and computer access is available via the local library system within Bakersfield.

All providers in Bakersfield

Provider brand namePrimary networkPrimary network coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
Applied Technology Group IncFixed Wireless100%25 Mbps10 Mbps
unWired Broadband IncFixed Wireless100%30 Mbps7 Mbps
Charter Communications IncCable100%940 Mbps35 Mbps
AT&T CaliforniaDSL97%100 Mbps20 Mbps
Crown Castle FiberFiber11%0 Mbps0 Mbps
Vast NetworksFiber11%0 Mbps0 Mbps
TPx CommunicationsFiber1%0 Mbps0 Mbps

7 residential and business internet providers in Bakersfield with at least 1% local coverage with their primary network type.

Low-coverage providers in Bakersfield

Provider brand namePrimary networkPrimary network coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
ComcastCable0.52%987 Mbps35 Mbps
Sidewinder Networks, LLCFixed Wireless0.06%100 Mbps100 Mbps
GeoLinksFixed Wireless0.01%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps

3 residential internet providers in Bakersfield with less than 1% local coverage. These are unlikely to be serviceable.

Page Summary
  • 80% of Kern County has access to wired broadband of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Coverage is better within city limits, while more rural parts of the county are often limited to satellite service.
  • High costs of service in low-income areas often prohibits residents from acccessing the internet at home.
  • 85% of Kern County residents own a computer.
  • Municipal broadband is not available in Bakersfield or Kern County, and there are no current plans to invest in public-owned networks.

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Last Update: September 17, 2020
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