Across the US, bridging the digital divide between urban and rural areas has become a major focus for communities and all levels of government. Where does Indiana stack up in these efforts?
In tracking high-speed internet access across the United States, the FCC relies on census reporting from internet providers as to what types (wireless, satellite, fiber, etc.) and speeds of internet are available in each location. Our mission at Mainstream is to connect rural areas to fast, reliable internet, so as we go through this data, we will focus on the rural access to a broadband connection, which the FCC defines as speeds up to 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload.
In Indiana, 67% of the rural population has access to broadband speeds. This means a third of our rural residents only have access to slower, less reliable connections, or no access at all. While these numbers may seem bleak, the good news is Indiana lands in the middle of the pack when compared to other states, ranking at 28th in the nation.
“Over a third of our rural residents only have access to slower, less reliable connections, or no access at all.”FCC Fixed Broadband Deployment, https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/#/area-comparison?version=jun2018&tech=acfosw&speed=25_3&searchtype=county.
What Does This Mean?
In looking at expansion efforts in Indiana, several initiatives are in place to help bridge the digital divide. Several areas throughout the state have received federal funds for broadband expansion, and the state itself has enacted programs to help increase expansion, including:
- Next Level Connections Program
- Next level Connections program is focused on funding critical infrastructure expansion on a county level. The fund will eventually award up to $100 million to help expand services to unserved and underserved areas of the state.
- Broadband Ready Certifications
- This is a state-level County or Community Certification awarded to those areas who have already made an effort to ease broadband deployment in their areas
The future of broadband connectivity looks bright. Officials on all levels (federal, state, local) are working to ensure that rural areas are able to access the same connectivity and associated opportunities as urban city centers. With these initiatives in place, the FCC’s goal of reaching those 30 million unserved Americans could be attained sooner than we expect.
Post written by Zach Stephens