May 31, 2017

Digital divide persists in rural America

While rural Americans have made significant strides in tech adoption over the past decade, they are less likely to have access to broadband or own a smartphone than urban or suburban adults, according to Pew's latest survey on the digital divide. Rural Americans are also about twice as likely to say they never go online as suburban and urban Americans.

Data: Pew Research survey; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why it matters: Expanding rural access to broadband has long been a challenge in the U.S. — since internet providers worry they'll never recoup the investment they make in building those networks. That's why it's something to watch if Congress gets around to an infrastructure package that includes incentives for expanded rural broadcast access, of if FCC Chairman Ajit Pai takes action on the issue -- something he has said is one of his priorities. It also matters to tech giants, like Google, Amazon and Facebook, because more people online means more customers for their web-based services.

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