Access to fast Internet is spreading in the U.S., but about 19 million Americans can’t get it, according to a new government report out Tuesday.
A free Wi-Fi hotspot beams broadband internet from atop a public phone booth in Manhattan.
The decline partially reflects Internet service providers’ expansion beyond suburbs, but the FCC also attributes it to data collection that improved from its previous efforts.
The lack of access continues to hamper rural Americans in particular. About 14.5 million rural Americans — or 23.7% of 61 million people living in rural areas — had no fast Internet service offered for their homes. In contrast, only 1.8% Americans living in non-rural areas — 4.5 million out of 254.9 million — had no broadband access. The FCC categorizes an Internet service as “broadband” if it transmits at a speed of at least 4 megabits per second.
The report’s ranking of states again underscored the correlation between broadband access and economic productivity. Economically struggling states fared worse than more thriving areas of the country. West Virginia had the least amount of access, with 45.9% of the state without broadband access. Montana (26.7%), South Dakota (21.1%) and Alaska (19.6%) followed.