Monday, March 02, 2020

New data shows sub-broadband average internet speeds in two-thirds of counties; map shows county-level data

Every U.S. county's average internet speed. National Association of Counties map; click the image to enlarge it.
Newly released data shows that far fewer rural Americans have access to broadband internet than the Federal Communications Commission's map indicates.

The FCC gets its data from internet service providers who have an incentive to overstate their rural coverage in order to access federal funds. The map also considers a census block as "covered" if one household has broadband access. Using that data and methodology, the FCC estimates that 21 million Americans, or 6.5 percent of the population, lack broadband access, Andrea Noble reports for Route Fifty.

"New data, crowdsourced from an app that tests internet connectivity speeds, found that 65% of counties across the United States are averaging connection speeds slower than the FCC’s definition of broadband," Noble reports. "The findings were released Monday in a report by the National Association of Counties, which launched the mobile app last year to help fill in the gaps in the FCC’s connectivity data."

The app created a map of internet speed data. Using data from over 99,000 speed tests in 2,391 counties across the U.S., NACO found that many areas, especially rural ones, were averaging speeds slower than 25 megabits per second, which is the FCC's threshold for broadband. "According to the report, 77% of small counties, 51% of medium-sized counties and 19% of large counties were averaging connections at speeds slower than 25 mbps," Noble reports.

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