Friday, November 7, 2014

Worst-connected = poorest

America's worst-connected cities are also the poorest, pretty much. 

The 2013 American Community Survey shows 72 U.S. cities with 100,000 households or more.  Here are the fifteen with the highest percentages of households with no Internet access of any kind, including mobile or dial-up.

The rightmost column shows each city's rank among the 72 in median household income, lowest to highest.  (The median for all U.S. households was $51,017.)

Remember, "median income" means half of all households made less.

So... pretty straightforward, yes?

And not surprising.  There's plenty of evidence of correlation, if not causation, between low income and lack of Internet access and use.

Does this correlation prove that the cost of broadband service is the main reason so many households still don't have it?  Nope, not by itself. 

But bear in mind that it's pretty hard in most communities to buy any kind of Internet connection, including "non-subscription" smartphone service, for less than $25 a month... which is not small change for a household with only $1200 or $1500 a month to live on.

Monday, November 3, 2014

America's worst-connected big cities

As mentioned in a previous post, the first numbers from the U.S. Census American Community Survey for 2013 were released in September and they included -- for the very first time! -- data on household Internet connections.

Eventually we'll have ACS numbers down to the Census tract level, but for now we only have them for the 575 U.S. "places" (i.e. cities) with populations of 65,000 or more.  Among these cities are 176 that have 50,000 or more residential households.

In the last couple of days, I downloaded the 2013 household Internet data for these 176 larger cities from here, and did the math to rank them by two measures of household "non-connectedness":  
  • the percentage of each city's households that lacked home Internet access of any kind, including dial-up accounts and mobile device access (like smartphone access)
  • the percentage of households that lacked what the FCC calls "fixed broadband subscriptions", i.e. direct Internet access through DSL, cable modem, fiber-to-the-home or satellite accounts (but not counting mobile devices or dial-up).
For each of these two measures (it's up to you to decide which one you like better), here are the 25 cities with the highest (worst) percentages...  the 25 worst-connected cities in America.

(If you want to see the whole dataset from which these charts are taken, email me and I'll send you a copy.)

Update 11/4: Phil Dampier has an extended commentary on this post at Stop the Cap!

And... so does Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica.