In Fairfield County: Poverty and the Digital Divide

by Categorized: Data, Poverty Date:

Fairfield County is the most Internet-connected metropolitan area in the nation, according to an analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University. But a closer look at the broadband map reveals the depth of the digital divide.

Among the 100 largest regions in the country, the census-designated Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan statistical area – which includes all of Fairfield County – ranked tops with 79 percent of households subscribing to a broadband Internet connection. But those numbers were hardly uniform.

Fairfield County is also, according to one analysis, No. 1 in the unequal distribution of wealth, and broadband access in the region mirrors that gap. In the map below, those large swathes of purple represent broadband subscribership of 80 to 100 percent. The blotches of yellow-orange in all three cities indicate that only 40 to 60 percent of homes in those sections have access to high-speed Internet.

“The lack of a broadband connection puts people at a profound disadvantage,” the workshop reported. “People without access, who are likely to be lower on the economic ladder, fall further and further behind, widening the ‘digital divide’ between rich and poor.”

Nationally, Southern states, with the exception of North Carolina and Florida, generally had the lowest rates of broadband access. Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, also had the lowest percentage of broadband subscribers: 35 percent.

Hawaii had the highest rates of broadband access, followed by Connecticut. In addition to Fairfield County, the Hartford-West-Hartford-East Hartford metropolitan area, which includes 57 towns in Hartford, Middlesex and Tolland counties, was also among the top-ten most-wired regions.

An interactive map and the full report, which was co-published by the Center for Public Integrity, are available here.

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