Percentage of each State’s Population with Access to Broadband Internet
The term “broadband internet” is used frequently in discussions about Internet access, but what does “broadband internet” actually mean? According to the FCC, to be called broadband internet download speeds must be 25 Mbps or higher.
With this clear delineation, the question then becomes, “Who has access to broadband internet in the United States?” We compiled a ranked list of the states, and their respective broadband coverage. We also took a look at the largest metros across the USA, and ranked them based on broadband coverage.
More important than where to find broadband speeds may be to know which metros to avoid, with less than satisfactory speeds. Of the ~ 370 metros analyzed, 14 metros in Texas fell into the worst 25 broadband covered metros. In fairness, Texas is the second largest state in the USA, which means coverage can be difficult to some of the more rural areas in the state.
Conversely, California only has one metro fall into the worst 25 covered metros, and is the largest state in the USA. Unfortunately, you will only find Los Angeles in the top 25 most covered metros, meaning the majority of California’s cities have relatively average broadband coverage.
1. Longview, TX – 0.503%
2. Visalia, CA – 0.483%
3. College Station, TX – 0.294%
4. Cumberland, MD – 0.288%
5. Killeen Temple, TX – 0.28%
6. Lubbock, TX – 0.258%
7. Missoula, MT – 0.25%
8. Billings, MT – 0.237%
9. Yuma, AZ – 0.228%
10. Burlington, VT – 0.219%
11. Abilene, TX – 0.2%
12. Tyler, TX – 0.196%
13. Amarillo, TX – 0.193%
14. San Angelo, TX – 0.171%
15. Grand Junction, CO – 0.149%
16. Hot Springs, AR – 0.09%
17. Great Falls, MT – 0.085%
18. El Paso, TX – 0.064%
19. Beaumont, TX – 0.041%
20. Wichita Falls, TX – 0.024%
21. McAllen, TX – 0.019%
22. Laredo, TX – 0.013%
23. Pittsfield, MA – 0.007%
24. Brownsville, TX – 0.006%
25. Pine Bluff, AZ – 0.001%
All in all, there is a substantial variance in the amount of broadband coverage across the United States. The Northeast and West seem to be leading the charge on improving access to high speed internet for their residents. Want to see which providers are available in your area, and how they stack up against the rest of nation? Use our zip search below to get started.
[zipfinder] On July 15, President Obama announced a new program called ConnectHome, which is designed to make broadband access more affordable to low-income American households. A partnership between the federal government, numerous municipal governments, and several large Internet Service Providers (ISPs), ConnectHome is expected to bring broadband access to 275,000 households in 28 communities in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
According to a White House press release, half of households in the bottom 20 percent of household income currently lack Internet access. A Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) study released in conjunction with the ConnectHome announcement claims that income plays an even bigger factor than geography in determining families’ access to high-speed Internet.
Although the program’s goal is to help all members of low-income families, it specifically mentions students as those who can benefit from broadband access. The 275,000 eligible households include 200,000 children for whom the homework gap presents an obstacle to learning and future success.
Which cities are included?
The Department of Housing and Urban Development used local commitment to improvement and “place-based programs” as factors in selecting the communities that will participate in ConnectHome. These communities are:
Arkansas: Little Rock
California: Fresno and Los Angeles
Georgia: Albany, Atlanta, and Macon
Louisiana: Baton Rouge and New Orleans
Massachusetts: Boston and Springfield
Missouri: Kansas City
New Jersey: Camden
New York: New York City
North Carolina: Durham
Oklahoma: Choctaw Nation
Tennessee: Memphis and Nashville
Texas: San Antonio
Which ISPs are participating?
Eight different ISPs have agreed to be involved in ConnectHome, offering service to low-income areas. These include CenturyLink, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Sprint, and Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband. The last four will provide service to the Choctaw reservation in Oklahoma. Each ISP will service those areas in which it has existing broadband network resources: CenturyLink already offers fiber service in Seattle, as Google does in four cities in the ConnectHome program. In some cases, service will be free and, in others, it will cost $9.95 or $14.95 per month.
Would you like to use your lifeline?
ConnectHome won’t stand alone, and other government programs can offer assistance to those for which paying even $14.95 a month might be difficult. Remember that in June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to expand the Lifeline subsidy program to cover broadband access. Eligible families may now receive a $9.25-per-month subsidy for broadband access, which could make getting online nearly free for many families. Eligible families with school-aged children will be able to access Sprint’s wireless network through the ConnectED program.
Access Meets Learning
Although Internet access is perhaps the most important feature of the new program, it’s not the only one. A number of non-profit and for-profit entities including the American Library Association, Best Buy, College Board, GitHub, the James M. Cox Foundation, and PBS will provide various digital literacy opportunities for eligible households so that those families who gain access to the Internet also gain the knowledge they need to use it to their advantage.
Only the Beginning
The White House-cited CEA study makes it clear that ConnectHome in and of itself won’t be enough to close the digital divide. Though there’s currently no available timeframe for implementation of initial ConnectHome access, the program will expand to serve more households in new communities. President Obama has announced his desire to expand high-speed Internet access to every American household, having called broadband “a necessity” rather than a luxury.
Photo Credit: Diego Camblaso/Flikr Despite having the reputation as one of the most tech-savvy states in the nation, California’s average Internet speed is only the 18th fastest out of the 50 states. How is it that the home to Apple, Google, Hulu, and countless other digital leaders isn’t also one of the nation’s leading states in connectivity?
One group thinks it knows the answer. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute (BACEI) describes itself as a “partnership of business with labor, government, higher education, and philanthropy that works to support the economic vitality and competitiveness of the Bay Area and California.” In a recent report, “21st Century Infrastructure: Keeping California Connected, Powered, and Competitive,” the group claims that it’s a focus on the past that’s holding California back.
It Got Us This Far, But…
BACEI credits California’s current economic and technological successes to a half-century of investing infrastructure including universities, highways, public utilities, and telecommunications. That infrastructure paved the way for success, the group says, but future infrastructure needs will be different, and California’s regulatory environment is suited to building the last century’s infrastructure, not the next century’s.
California, like the rest of the nation, trails many other nations in broadband infrastructure, and predicts future data needs will overwhelm California’s current networking capacity. In particular, BACEI points to the Internet of Things (IoT), a “tsunami” of applications, and the energy industry as three of the near future’s biggest data users. The Institute predicts a need for a connected “smart grid” to manage energy usage and delivery. Such a grid is already in operation in Chattanooga; by adding interconnected sensors to the electrical grid, the grid becomes stronger, but thousands of new sensors also increase data demands.
Bandwidth Over Speed
Though speed is important, BACEI notes that the huge volume of connected devices coming online over the next several decades makes bandwidth even more critical. According to the report, Internet traffic has expanded by a factor of 450,000 in the last 20 years, and the number of devices that share data from machine to machine will quadruple between now and 2018. More than 2 billion smart devices including industrial sensors, like those for the smart grid, and wearable technology will be online and communicating with each other, absent human intervention, by that time. Cloud storage will have increased 300 percent from 2013-2018.
One example used to illustrate the way in which California regulations focus on the past, rather than the future, is the phone system. The report notes that AT&T and Comcast have both invested in digital/Internet-based phone networks but, as they invest in that future technology, California law requires them to maintain traditional copper wire-based phone networks that will someday be obsolete, if they’re not already. Obviously, money used to keep up legacy networks can’t be used to invest in more advanced technology.
Anyone can point out problems, but to BACEI’s credit, they also propose solutions for improved future regulations. Some recommendations are focused on the energy industry, and aren’t especially relevant to connectivity, but three of these recommendations are directly related:
1. Plan for local network construction by considering the logistics of where to locate resources, and reduce the amount of red tape necessary to build new networks.
2. Eliminate regulations that hinder future progress by focusing on the past.
3. Create a state-level task force with input from state and municipal government, industry, network providers, regulators and public interest groups to examine future network infrastructure needs.
This task force will help further the first two recommendations.
BACEI also has recommendations for specific infrastructure worthy of investment. It points to fiber, of course, but also mentions next-generation, gigabit-capable copper and coaxial wire, mobile cell towers, and microcells/distributed antenna systems to boost wireless reception.
Benefits of Broadband
From a consumer’s perspective, better Internet means more speed. But there’s more to it than the ability to load cat pictures faster. BACEI says for society, better broadband means:
• A better economy: a 10 percent improvement in broadband penetration results in a 1.21 percent increase in gross domestic product.
• A better environment: smarter networks help reduce energy and water use and waste.
• A better education system: 50 percent of teachers say poor connectivity inhibits their lessons.
• A better state of public services: smart devices will mean improvements in everything from waste collection to traffic.
Embrace the Inevitable
As we’ve pointed out before, the IoT, increased bandwidth, and high-speed Internet connectivity are likely to create a future in which virtually everything in our lives will be connected in some way. This is the future that California has to plan for with better infrastructure. But because interconnected systems mean the potential for a problem with one system to affect another, regulations for that new infrastructure need to offer freedoms, but also safeguards.
Photo Credit: Wendell/Flikr