While the country is making progress expanding access to
broadband, there continues to be a rural/urban divide, but one that does not
break down easily into that two-sided view. That is according to a new
government report released by the National Telecommunications and Information
"While it is commonly understood that broadband is less
available in rural communities and more available in urban communities, a
simple two-way, rural/urban comparison masks the fact that there is
considerable variation in availability within these two types of
communities," NTIA said.
The study, "Broadband Availability Beyond the
Rural/Urban Divide," finds that there are "considerable"
variations within that divide, with "one group of rural Americans [having]
even less broadband access than previously understood and two groups of urban
Americans [having] more broadband than is typically identified."
The report found that in terms of access to very high-speed
broadband (at least 25 Mbps), only 18% of "very rural" residents have
access to that speed, while 38% of "exurban" residents do.
Although exurbs have fewer people per square mile than do
small towns, the report said, those exurban communities are more likely to have
access to higher-speed wireless. There were even cases where suburban residents
had faster broadband than central cities.
The report is based on data from the June 30,
2011, State Broadband Initiative (SBI) and the 2010 Census.