PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.—While the pandemic has made high speed broadband connections more important than ever both for entertainment and work, the new “Broadband America” report from The NPD Group finds that many Americans lack access to this crucial technology, with only 50% of homes in the continental U.S. having true broadband speed of 25Mbps download or higher.
In fact, 34% of homes receive internet access at speeds of less than 5Mbps, including 15% that do not have any internet access, NPD said.
Vermont, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Mississippi are among the least connected states, while New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, and California are among the most connected. In Vermont only 24% of homes receive broadband speeds, while in New Jersey 65% of homes do.
“The so-called digital divide is a result of many factors including availability of suitable internet services and the affordability of services that are available in more rural parts of America,” explained Eddie Hold, president, NPD Connected Intelligence. “But there is potential for this situation to improve relatively quickly, as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which are providing key subsidies for deploying faster internet services, as well as funding the Affordable Connectivity Program which provides subsidized internet service to lower-income homes.”
According to NPD’s report, more rural and less connected areas of the U.S. have far lower ownership levels of connected devices, as well as a higher level of price sensitivity for technology products ranging from TVs to streaming media players and beyond. In fact, while TV unit sales are roughly the same across rural and non-rural areas, the average price is 40% lower. When looking at streaming media players, unit sales are nearly 60% lower in rural areas.
“The lack of higher-speed internet limits the opportunity for newer devices and services, as customers do not have the connectivity needed to generate a satisfactory experience,” noted Hold. “That has a ripple-on effect for consumer technology, limiting the need for larger, smarter TVs, streaming devices, or even tablets and newer PCs.”
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.