Broadband Internet service is unavailable to consumers in about 38 percent of census blocks in the U.S. and its territories, according to Federal Communications Commission data.
In Connecticut that figure is 16 percent. We examined the data town-by-town last week.
Internet service providers report their offerings to the FCC at the census block-level, which is the smallest geographic area defined by the Census Bureau. There are more than 11 million blocks nationwide, which gives a sense of how small they are.
The Federal Communications Commission defines broadband Internet access as 25Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.
Census blocks are not necessarily populated, so we looked only at blocks where any kind of non-mobile consumer Internet service, including satellite, is advertised.
Connecticut stacked up well against the rest of the nation. Its 16 percent of census blocks where only sub-broadband speeds were available put the state at No. 10 out of all the states. New Jersey and Rhode Island tied for first place, with just 2 percent of the state’s census blocks lacking broadband. Alaska was the worst state, with 76 percent of the state lacking broadband, followed by Idaho, at 73 percent, and Wyoming at 71 percent.
There are many areas where fixed satellite Internet service is the only or fastest available connection, and no satellite providers meet the federal broadband definition, according to the FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report.
These satellite-only areas push up each state’s percentage of slow-Internet blocks. If they were ignored, Connecticut’s percentage of blocks without broadband would drop from 16 percent down to 1 percent.
The FCC estimates in the report that 10 percent of the U.S. population lives in areas that lack broadband access, and, intuitively, rural populations are disproportionately affected, with 39 percent of rural populations lacking access.
For this analysis, we focused on broadband availability, not how many people actually have broadband service. According to the FCC, about 30 percent of urban and 28 percent of rural residents subscribe to broadband in areas where it is available.
Trend CT previously reported that Connecticut compares well to other states in terms of the number of residents with any kind of Internet service at home.