Approximately 30 percent of Americans who live in rural areas don’t have broadband access, compared to about 2 percent in urban areas, Kathryn de Wit, manager of Pew’s Broadband Research Initiative, said in an interview with Government Technology.
“States differ in how they manage the development of broadband. Some states have a centralized office responsible for managing or coordinating broadband efforts,” according to Pew. “In others, multiple agencies have jurisdiction over broadband. States have written plans, created maps, or identified goals and funding mechanisms for their broadband work; some have almost all of these, while others have few or none.”
The importance of the expansion of broadband access is a hot topic, and many states have undertaken initiatives to expand needed infrastructure. For instance, Illinois recently announced a $420 million statewide initiative to expand and improve its broadband capabilities that is a key piece of its Rebuild Illinois capital plan; the North Carolina House passed long-delayed and debated legislation, the FIBER NC Act, that would eliminate restrictions on local government investment in broadband.
The FCC’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report, places the number of Americans without access at about 19 million, less than the Pew findings. The report concludes that “the FCC – and the nation – must continue to address obstacles impeding universal broadband deployment and availability.”