ICYMI: New Study Highlights How Broadband Gap Undermines Digital Equity

Congress Must Advance Permanent Solutions to Bridge Digital Divide to Ensure Every American Community Can Access 21st Century Digital Tools

In case you missed it, a new report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies shows a disproportionate number of African Americans still lack access to broadband internet and highlights the stark contrast in opportunities between those with and without broadband access.

According to the study:

  • In the Black Rural South, 38% of African Americans report that they lack home internet access. By comparison, 23% of White Americans in the Black Rural South, 22% of African Americans nationwide, 22% of rural residents outside of the South, and 18% of all Americans nationwide report that they lack home internet access.
  • Expanding broadband can help improve employment, incomes, education, and health care in the Black Rural South. Currently, 49% of Black children in the Black Rural South live in poverty compared to 18% of White children in the region and 19% of all children nationwide. During the past 10 years, many states with Black Rural South counties have experienced high rates of rural hospital closures.
  • Many households in the Black Rural South lack high-speed broadband because it is either unavailable or they lack the financial means to purchase service. According to FCC data, in the Black Rural South, 25.8% of residents lack the option to subscribe to high-speed broadband (internet at speeds of 25/3 Mbps or higher) compared to 8.8% of non-southern rural residents and 3.8% of all Americans.
  • Even where broadband is available in the Black Rural South, many find it unaffordable. Pew estimates that U.S. households with incomes less than $35,000 are much less likely to have broadband, and they account for 28.6% of all households nationwide but 60.8% of Black households in the Black Rural South.

Dominique Harrison, the author of the report, recently told Reuters the new data is “important for all policymakers to see.” Harrison added, “Before we can even consider affordability, Black residents are being shut out of access at shocking rates, and countless more with high prices and insufficient federal support.”

Congress should act to improve economic outcomes and advance equity in our education and health care systems by swiftly advancing permanent solutions to expand broadband access, adoption and digital skills.

Read about how the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be a critical down payment toward closing the broadband gap and increasing digital equity HERE.

Read more about the digital divide and solutions to permanently close the broadband gap HERE.


Join our fight to bring broadband to all rural Americans. Tell Washington to take action to bridge the digital divide now!