The Metropolitan Policy Center at the Brookings Institution recently published an analysis of data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey concerning national broadband internet adoption, including cable, fiber optic, or DSL internet service. They found that while broadband subscriptions are rising, there are still gaps in this essential service.
Brookings’ analysis found that, overall, people in the U.S. are rapidly adopting broadband technology. In 2013, about 7 in 10 (73%) households across the U.S. had a broadband subscription. By 2017, broadband subscription had jumped to about 8 in 10 (83%) U.S. households.
The national picture matches that seen in the 100 largest metro areas, which saw a similar jump from a 75% broadband adoption rate in 2013 to 86% in 2017. Metro areas that had low adoption rates in 2013 tended to see the most growth – areas like El Paso, TX (64% to 81%), Jackson, MS (65% to 82%) and Youngstown, OH (64%-80%). In El Paso, this means that about 50,000 more households had access to in-home internet in 2017 than did in 2013.
Access to quality internet is becoming increasingly important in the United States and is required for everything from completing web-based homework to applying for jobs, which is a problem for the 2 in 10 households that still do not have home internet. Some estimates have shown that libraries and other community institutions are key to filling in these gaps in broadband access. And, until every home has access to quality internet, libraries have the opportunity to provide this service and ensure that everyone is able to fully participate in an increasingly digital society.
For more information, the full report can be found here.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.