Using data from the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) One-Year Estimates, today the National Digital Inclusion Alliance releases its annual rankings for America’s Worst Connected Cities. Our analysis this year looked at cities with populations of 65,000 or more to include smaller municipalities along with large and mid-size cities.
Brownsville (TX) remains towards the top of NDIA’s list of Worst Connected Cities, recording 66.59% of households without cable, DSL, or fiber (“wireline”) broadband. It is joined in the top 10 by three smaller communities in Texas, with Pharr, Tyler, and Harlingen all reporting that at least half of all households in each municipality did not have wireline.
This year, NDIA also analyzed the percentage of households that did not have broadband Internet subscriptions of any kind, including mobile data plans. Among larger cities, Cleveland (OH), Miami (FL), and Newark (NJ) reported the highest rates of households without broadband of any type.
Between telehealth, online banking, remote learning, and communicating with friends and family, Americans are increasingly reliant on Internet connectivity to carry-on their daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the need for reliable home Internet access. Statistical gaps like those found in our report represent massive barriers for residents of these communities.
The 2019 American Community Survey release has household Internet access data for 625 U.S. cities and “Census designated places” with populations of 65,000 or more. This year, NDIA identified 185 communities of all sizes in which more than 30% of households lacked wireline subscriptions. These communities vary in size and across geographies, reflecting America’s persistent digital divide.