The Internet in kentucky: Life in the slow lane for many

Oct 03, 2013

The Internet has become an important source of information for employment, health, news, entertainment, and shopping. And while many of these activities can be easily performed with a basic level of broadband speed, an increasing number of applications and activities—like distance learning—require high-speed broadband to perform adequately. Research and analysis conducted by the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information and the Gatton College of Business and Economics' Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) show that only a handful of Kentucky counties, which include about one-half of the state's population, are nationally competitive with respect to high-speed Internet infrastructure and utilization.

Over the last decade the percentage of Kentucky households with high-speed Internet——has increased from 13 percent to 67 percent, and the percentage of Kentucky households with access to a basic level of broadband is about 95 percent. Unfortunately a basic level of is not sufficient for many important applications. According to a study sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, distance learning, for example, requires a minimum 25 mbps download speed for an "ok" experience and 50 mbps for a "good" experience. While federal data show that 82 percent of U.S. households have access to at least 25 mbps, only about 61 percent of Kentucky households have access to this speed.

The University of Kentucky researchers used a statistical model to estimate the percentage of households in each county having high-speed broadband Internet in their home. They combined these estimates with government figures on the extent of the high-speed to categorize each of Kentucky's 120 counties into one of four groups: Nationally Competitive, On the Cusp, Frustrated Surfers, and the Information Highway Slow Lane.

There are 18 "Nationally Competitive" counties. These counties have download speeds and high-speed Internet utilization rates that are equal to or greater than the U.S. average. The next group of 24 counties is "On the Cusp," with at least 50 percent of the households having access to 25 mbps. Comprising the "Frustrated Surfers" category are 33 counties where less than 50 percent of the have access to at least 25 mbps. Finally, the largest category, "Information Highway Slow Lane," is comprised of the 45 counties without 25 mbps download capability. Over 85 percent of the 102 counties that are not "Nationally Competitive" have household broadband rates below the U.S. average.

Recent proposals by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education for improving access to high-speed Internet in Kentucky include the creation of "E-Learning Centers," which would be places like schools, libraries, and nonprofits where individuals would have after-hours access to the Internet. Providing free access at E-Learning Centers would overcome the cost barrier, but the researchers' results show there are important education as well as income barriers to household broadband adoption. The independent effect of education is significant—Kentuckians with at least a bachelor's degree are 1.3 times more likely to have broadband at home than those with a high school diploma, 79 percent compared to 60 percent.

"The Council's Rural Access Work Group explored the causes of perennially low educational attainment in rural areas and found that many counties struggling with low educational attainment, high unemployment, and poverty are the same counties without adequate access to high-speed Internet access," said Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education. "Expanding access to high-speed Internet would bring high quality educational resources to areas of the state that are in greatest need of elevating the employability of its residents. It would, without question, be a 'game changer' for thousands of Kentuckians."

According to Dan O'Hair, dean of the College of Communication and Information, "improving Kentucky's innovation capacity and economic prosperity in the Information Age will be partially determined by the extent to which our broadband infrastructure and Internet utilization is not just nationally competitive—but internationally competitive."

Explore further: 70% of Americans have high-speed Internet

More information: cber.uky.edu/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

70% of Americans have high-speed Internet

Aug 26, 2013

The percentage of Americans with high-speed Internet connections at home has reached 70 percent, while just three percent still use dial-up to go online, a study showed Monday.

In US, 19 mn can't get high-speed Internet: study

Aug 21, 2012

Around six percent of the US population, or 19 million people, lack access to high-speed Internet even though deployment has improved in recent years, a government study said Tuesday.

US to pump $1.2 bln to expand broadband access

Aug 04, 2010

The US administration unveiled plans Wednesday to spend 1.2 billion dollars to expand broadband or high-speed Internet access to dozens of under-served rural communities.

US ranks 28th in Internet connection speed: report

Aug 25, 2009

The United States ranks 28th in the world in average Internet connection speed and is not making significant progress in building a faster network, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

10 hours ago

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

12 hours ago

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

21 hours ago

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

(Phys.org) —A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

(Phys.org) —Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks. Their study, published ...