Share of population with low broadband Internet service provision
for U.S. rural and urban areas 1
Low broadband Internet service provision is defined as zero, one, two, or three service
providers within a ZIP Code area. The specific number of providers is not disclosed for
low service provision areas to protect firm confidentiality.
Source: Economic Research Service calculations based on Federal Communications
Commission and Census Bureau data.
United States Department of Agriculture
Economic Research Service
The size and growth of U.S. Internet use is impressive as it becomes
more embedded in national and rural economies. Three-quarters
of U.S. residents used the Internet to access information, educa-
tion, and services in 2007. Widespread Internet adoption suggests it has great
value to individuals, businesses, and communities. Broadband Internet access
is becoming essential for both businesses and households; many compare
its evolution to other technologies now considered common necessities—
such as cars, electricity, televisions, microwave ovens, and cell phones.
Although rural residents enjoy widespread access to the Internet, they
are less likely to have high-speed, or broadband, Internet access than their
urban counterparts. Nonetheless, broadband access for both rural and urban
populations increased rapidly between 2000 and 2006. The main limitation
of slower, dial-up Internet access is that many content-dense applications and
documents, and such critical services as anti-virus protections, are not
readily usable via dial-up due to low transmission capability and speed.
Broadband Internet access in rural areas is less prevalent than in more
densely populated areas of the country. Circumstantial evidence suggests that
the difference in access may lie in the higher cost and limited availability of
broadband Internet in rural areas. As a result, rural residents depend more