This map paints a vivid picture of America’s digital divide

If you’re reading this story on a computer and you live in an area with a reliable broadband network, you might not even consider what life would be like without a consistent WiFi connection. The FCC reports that due to lack of broadband infrastructure or inability to pay for the service, six percent of Americans do not have a reliable broadband connection in their homes. A new map from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) aims to help solve this problem by detailing exactly where connection issues are most severe. 

The map, called “Indicators of Broadband Need,” is the first of its kind to depict, in detail, internet availability across the entire US. NITA compiled data from the US Census, the FCC, M-Lab, Ookla, and Microsoft to create their tool. Their map is based on a broadband standard of 25 Mbps download and three Mbps upload. 

Users can zoom in on specific regions or search for specific locations to understand where the digital divide is most severe. For example, only 53 percent of residents of American Indian Reservations have a reliable internet connection. 

No problem can be solved without understanding the scope of the issue and this map helps rectify the lack of connectivity by offering a detailed picture of where infrastructure and public programs are falling short. Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley said, “Any effort to close the digital divide starts with solid data, and NTIA continues to help policymakers make more informed decisions on expanding broadband access.”

Some of the solutions working to address this problem include FCC subsidy programs and education access organization Kajeet

Image source: NTIA

Additional resources:  Brookings – 5 Steps to get the internet to all Americans

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