Last year, we introduced a tool called the Broadband Connectivity Index (BCI) to measure overall internet connectivity and compare it across areas. The BCI uses principal components analysis of the availability of internet service, how many people have internet service at home, and the speed of internet service. We have updated the BCI to include the new data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Census.1
The map below shows BCI, adjusted to range from zero (worst) to one (best), by county.
The distribution below shows that most counties have fairly high scores, but some counties score very low.
Scores Vary Widely Within States
Even within states, scores can vary a lot. For example, Arizona has an average score of 0.67, which ranks it 37th among all states. However, the lowest-scoring 5% of counties in Arizona are lower than those in all but one state (Alaska).
The chart below shows the states in alphabetical order. In the table below the chart it is possible to sort by 5th percentile, mean, or 95th percentile.
the top 20 and bottom 20 counties
The tables below shows the top and bottom 20 counties in the country based on their BCI scores.
a useful tool for the states?
States could use the BCI for multiple purposes. It could help, for example, to decide where to challenge the FCC maps or where to target state resources for gathering better information. Areas with particularly high scores but low measures of any given indicator, or vice versa, could be areas in which data is incorrect and needs more investigation. Additionally, the BCI could provide a framework for states to start considering where subsidies are likely to make the biggest difference.
The BCI does not necessarily need to focus on the variables we use here. States can modify it to fit specific priorities, like considering internet adoption by race or ethnicity or looking at different internet speed standards.
The BCI is not a solution for deciding where to give out subsidies, but it can be a useful tool for identifying geographic areas or types of information that need more attention.
1 The underlying data used to create the BCI includes information about the availability of internet service from the FCC's new map (share of locations with access 25/3, 50/5, 100/20, 1000/500, which the FCC set as relevant tiers in the RDOF auction), information about how many people have internet service at home from the 2021 Census ACS (share of households that earn less than $20,000, $20,000 - $75,000, and more than $75,000 that subscribe to broadband), and data about internet speed in Q2 2022 from Ookla's open dataset.