Nearly Half of Texas Misses Internet Access Benchmark
by Ben Kerns | Jul 7, 2015 | Technology
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and, as it turns out, that also includes broadband speeds. Texas’ average download speed for households with broadband access stands at 42 Mbps—six
points higher than the national average.
However, the state has also seen some disparity in Internet availability lately.
The Trouble with Austin
The Lone Star State’s capital city touts an above-average rate
of Internet consumption among its households, reaching upwards of 92 percent. The national average of households that have Internet access is currently at 72 percent. The problem is, according a survey conducted earlier this year, there are major disparities among Internet access between different demographic groups.
According to the survey, 94 percent of white households have Internet access, while 91 percent of Hispanic households can get online. Meanwhile, African American homes only have Internet access at a rate of 80 percent.
Many residents who were polled for the survey cited costs as a reason for lack of access. The report led to a Digital Inclusion Strategic Plan, which aims to provide wider access through free Wi-Fi spots and non-profit institutions, as well as educating the community about the issue.
Access Across Texas
Outside of the capital and other major cities, the rural landscape seems to be causing problems with Internet speeds.
Larger cities in Texas seem to have adapted well to increasing Internet speeds, with Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio close to or exceeding
the national average. Rural areas away from the cities in Texas’ eastern and central hubs experience much lower speeds. El Paso, for instance, has an average download speed
of just 18 Mbps.
Slightly more than half of Texans have access to the 24 Mbps benchmark
set by the FCC for minimum broadband speeds. That’s an increase of 14 percent since 2011.
This interactive map
shows the disparity in broadband availability between eastern and western portions of the state. The west lags behind in fiber, cable, DSL, and fixed (wired) broadband availability.
When we compare the maximum advertised download speeds across the state, we see that eastern Texas has speeds between 10 Mbps and 1 Gbps, while western Texas stalls out at less than 25 Mbps. The west also has a higher proportion of areas deemed underserved, meaning broadband speeds average less than 3 Mbps.
Lack of provider options might also help to explain slower speeds in certain areas. The map indicates western portions of the state average between one or two providers while in the more populated eastern areas there are at least five providers to choose from.
With most of Texas’ larger cities in the eastern portion of the state, it probably comes as no surprise that they’ve seen the fastest growth out of everyone. The western communities definitely have a lot of catching up to do. If you plan on visiting or moving to the Lone Star State in the near future, you might want to check the local access speeds before taking a trip or making the big move, because it might be difficult to get work done or stay on top of your favorite shows with only 18 Mbps access.
Photo Credit: Andy