County-level data is the easiest to come by and also the most difficult to make sense of.
By cross-referencing the FCC’s county-level broadband access data with digital divide ratings provided by the Intelligent Community Institute at Mississippi State University (ICI), the communities behind the numbers begin to come into focus. By combining these two sets, StateScoop revealed the counties that demonstrate the highest levels of:
- Broadband availability
- Broadband speed
- Broadband adoption
- Digital literacy
- Infrastructure investment
1) Utah County, Utah
Seat of Provo, Utah, and home to about half a million residents, Utah County provides broadband access to 98 percent of its population. The only county with a perfect digital divide score of zero, Utah County is an exemplar of Google Fiber’s potential. Provo Mayor John Curtis told StateScoop that among the benefits of Fiber is the free access provided to all residents that gives teachers a sense of confidence that if they assign homework that requires internet research, all their students will have the tool needed to complete their studies.
2) Johnson County, Kansas
Similar in profile to Utah County, Johnson County has a digital divide index (DDI) of just 1.43, and provides broadband access to 98 percent of its roughly half a million residents. With proximity to Kansas City, Google Fiber’s influence, whether direct, cosmic or purely incidental, is a feather in the cap of the tech giant.
3) Davis County, Utah
Apopulation cover of 97 percent combined with a DDI of 2.68 also places Davis County in this elite category. Though it is the third-most-populous county in the state with a population of more than 320,000, the county’s success can likely be attributed to its small geographic footprint in an urban setting just north of Salt Lake City.
4) Arlington County, Virginia
Home to Ronald Reagan National Airport, the Pentagonandmajor business corridors, Arlington County fits 220,000 people into 25 square miles. The county covers 98 percent of the population with broadband availability and has a DDI of 6.52.
5) Howard County, Maryland
Just west of Baltimore and home to the planned community of Columbia, Maryland, Howard County offers broadband to 99 percent of the residents within its 253 square miles. A DDI of 7.43 means access is highly equitable.