About half of Americans use broadband

Data from Microsoft suggests federal information on broadband internet access may overestimate the availability of high-speed internet, particularly in rural areas, Government Technology reports.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission reports that most of the country (92 percent) has access to broadband, however, Microsoft data shows only about half of Americans (49 percent) use it. Government Technology cites a third source, Pew Research, that found 65 percent of Americans use broadband — closer to Microsoft's estimate.

Microsoft Chief Data Analytics Officer John Kahan told Government Technology the data discrepancy likely stems from the way the FCC collects data. If internet providers can provide broadband service, it is counted as access, regardless of whether service is available. It also counts access by census blocks, requiring just one customer per census block to have broadband to consider the entire block as having access.

Data from all three sources indicate broadband use is lower in rural areas, according to the report.

Microsoft has partnered with rural technology operators under its Airband Initiative to expand broadband access to rural internet providers. Find more on that here.  


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