Policy

NTIA: There Are Rural/Urban Broadband Subdivides

Says Differences Are More Varied Than Simple Bifurcation 6/05/2013 8:10 AM Eastern

While the country is making progress expanding access to broadband, there continues to be a rural/urban, but one that does not break down easily into that two-sided view. That is according to a new government report. (One group of rural Americans has even less broadband access than previously understood and two groups of urban Americans have more broadband than is typically identified.)

"While it is commonly understood that broadband is less available in rural communities and more available in urban communities, a simple two-way, rural-urban comparison masks the fact that there is considerable variation in availability within these two types of communities," NTIA said.

"Broadband Availability Beyond the Rural/Urban Divide," just released by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, finds that there are "considerable" variations within that divide, with "one group of rural Americans [having] even less broadband access than previously understood and two groups of urban Americans [having] more broadband than is typically identified."

The report found that in terms of access to very high-speed broadband (at least 25 Mbps), only 18% of "very rural" residents have access to that speed, while 38% of "exurban" residents do.

Although exurbs have fewer people per square mile than do small towns, the report said, those exurban communities are more likely to have access to higher-speed wireless. There were even cases where suburban residents had faster broadband than central cities.

The report is based on data from the June 30, 2011, State Broadband Initiative (SBI) and the 2010 Census.

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