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.
New York City to Spread Wi-Fi with Rat-Carried Mobile Hotspots
In an effort to amplify the reach of free Wi-Fi, New York City officials have unveiled an unorthodox new plan—strapping tiny Wi-Fi boosters to the city’s rats.
While it may seem outlandish, the plan has gained serious traction after several successful small-scale test runs. Manhattan residents reported “noticeably faster speeds” in parks and public places after the rats were released in their neighborhoods, with download speeds peaking the night before garbage collection days.
“I think it’s a genius idea,” said 28-year-old Harlem resident Linda Chen, one of many satisfied residents. “After the bubonic plague, I feel like rats have an awful reputation, but they’re not all bad. They can be very useful.”
“And free Wi-Fi, you know, makes a huge difference,” Chen added.
The program follows on from earlier, successful experiments in rural locations in the UK, in which sheep fitted with cameras offered television viewers unique angles of the Tour De France. While leading technological advocates have considered turning the livestock into walking mobile hotspots, the plan has since failed to gain traction in Europe. New York City has capitalized on the idea, fitting the city’s enormous rats with Wi-Fi boosting collars.
Animal rights activists have condemned the operation, reportedly accusing city officials of “leveraging the city’s universal disgust towards rats” in order to push forward the potentially inhumane Wi-Fi collars.
“The collars are absolutely safe,” said Rhonda Lombardino, a city spokesperson, who described the Wi-Fi enabled collars as a “technological breakthrough” that could do for New York City rats “what rabid grizzly bears did for Leonardo DiCaprio—that is, put them on the map.”
For a city project, the response has been unusually positive. Native New Yorker and NYU Humanities graduate Bryan Andrews, who lives in the test zone, called the program “a runaway success”.
“After a long day of bussing tables, I’d usually have to resort to the Starbucks near my apartment if I wanted free Internet, which is totally corporate and not punk at all,” he said. “These rats are amazing. I’ve been leaving food in the hallway of my apartment complex, whole raw chickens and everything, so that I can attract more rats and better download speeds.” When asked about the potential for disease and public health concerns, he responded with free high-speed Internet being “a fair gamble” for another outbreak of the Black Plague.
“I can stream HD video on three different devices,” he continued, while also noting that he would be more than willing to “lose a few lymph nodes to the plague” if his Wi-Fi service was uninterrupted.
Some residents are not as pleased. When asked about the new program, Bay Ridge grandmother Sandra Jackson called the effort “a waste of time and ridiculously stupid.”
“Rats are dirty, awful creatures,” she said. “And who needs the Internet?” When pushed about the potential benefits for her tech-savvy grandchildren, she called the Internet both “dangerous” and “confusing.”
Public health and disease management expert Debbie Howard called the public’s response to the program “troubling.”
“You really have to wonder about a city that’s willing to let themselves be bombarded, literally, with animal poop, so that they can stream 1080p Netflix exclusives,” she said. “We could stick the Wi-Fi boosters on cabs, or on pigeons, or on streetlamps. Everyone’s so excited at the prospect of free, fast Internet that they’re completely closed off to any other possibilities.”
“I’m not complaining, though,” she added. “I mean, we’re due for another major epidemic soon anyway. I just didn’t think it would be because of The Walking Dead.” 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