/ Modified sep 23, 2019 10:33 a.m.

More data needed to bridge digital divide, expand high-speed internet

About 18% of Arizonans are thought to be underserved by the number of available internet providers.

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At least 21 million Americans still lack broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. But a nonpartisan think tank says more accurate data is needed to expand high-speed internet access.

As policymakers at the federal, state and local levels work to bridge the digital divide, they need better data so they know where the gaps are. The Federal Communications Commission gathers data from broadband carriers but the Pew Charitable Trust's Kathryn de Wit says that data is incomplete.

"It doesn't get to a very granular level of data and there's a wide variant in size of census blocks across the country," de Wit says. "They could be the size of a city block or they could be hundreds of miles."

Some organizations are working to fill those information gaps, while Pew is focusing on what states are doing to close the digital divide. Pew recently released an interactive tool that shows what policies each state has passed to fund or expand high speed internet access.

About 18% of Arizona's population is considered underserved by the number of internet providers in the area.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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