A new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program finds that although 93 percent of the nation lives in neighborhoods where 25 Mbps wireline broadband service is available, over 73 million Americans (including 17.7 million children) live in neighborhoods where in-home broadband subscription rates fall below 40 percent. The report uses census tract data to reveal neighborhood-level conditions and needs, generating new measures of the digital divide in every American community.
The report is released at an important time: the FCC is considering lowering the threshold for broadband speed and service, while Congress is primarily focused on rural gaps. Missed in these debates is the importance of getting all Americans subscribed to in-home broadband. “The United States is quickly becoming a digital economy: from how we teach our students, to how workers find employment, to the rise of telecommuters,” said Adie Tomer, report author and Brookings Metro fellow. “These subscription gaps present fresh obstacles to enabling all Americans to pursue economic opportunity.”
The report also includes a combined index of broadband availability and subscription. It finds coastal areas lead in broadband performance, including metro areas in Florida, the Northeast, and the Pacific Coast. Conversely, many Southern and lower-density metro areas perform poorly across both measures.
The report is accompanied by an interactive website that allows users to explore local data through “heat maps” showcasing neighborhood-level broadband availability and subscription for the top 100 metro areas, highlighting the stark intra-regional digital divide.
Direct to Full Text Report (68 pages; PDF)