Signs of Digital Distress

The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program has taken a detailed look at broadband in America and found some areas come up short, mainly in rural areas where the population density is low, which include many communities in the Sierra.

Mapping Broadband availability and subscription in American Neighborhoods

Executive Summary Highlights

The internet is now a fundamental component of the American economy, creating new ways to educate, employ, bring services to, and entertain every person. Broadband, especially wireline broadband in American homes, is the essential infrastructure for unlocking the internet’s economic bene ts. However, broadband infrastructure is far from ubiquitous, both in terms of where it operates and who subscribes to it, and those de cits are not shared evenly across the country. As such, policymakers have a responsibility to understand a national digital divide that has different contours depending on the place.

Using data from the Federal Communications Commission and the American Community Survey, this paper assesses broadband’s deployment and consumer subscriptions at the census tract level. It finds:

As of 2015, broadband services were available to 93 percent of the nation’s population, but large availability gaps existed in lower-density areas.

Most major metro areas offer near complete broadband coverage to their residents, but lower- density, more agriculturally focused regions in the South and West lag behind.

Over 73 million people (23 percent of the nation’s population) live in neighborhoods where in-home broadband subscription rates fall below 40 percent, but the gaps are largest in less dense regions.

Nearly every large metro area includes neighborhoods with subscription rates below 40 percent, but the gaps are largest in less dense regions. Over half of the population in metropolitan

Eighteen of the 20 metro areas that rank highest on a combined index of broadband availability and subscription are in Florida, the Northeast, and the Pacific Coast.

The full report is HERE: broadbandreport_september2017

I will be examing sections of the report as they relate to specific rural communities in the Sierra.


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