Internet Access in CNY

In 2019, the percentage of households in Syracuse without broadband Internet of any type, including mobile data plans, was 25%. That percentage rises to 40% when looking at households without a “wireline” connection (cable, DSL, or fiber broadband). In 2018, these numbers were 32% and 42%.

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance publishes the annual list of best and worst connected cities. Using data from the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS), released in September 2020 by the U.S. Census Bureau, NDIA ranked all 625 U.S. cities and “Census designated places” with populations of 65,000 or more by the percentage of each city’s households that lack home Internet connections of any kind.  Note that this data is not an indication of the availability of home broadband service, but rather of the extent to which households are actually connected to it.

Syracuse is ranked #33 worst connected city for households without broadband, and #46 for worst connected city without a wireline, out of the 625 cities in the U.S. surveyed in 2019.

The Census category “households with no Internet access” excludes all types of home Internet subscription — not only wireline (cable, fiber optic, DSL) but also satellite, 3G and 4G wireless services, and even dial-up modems.  It also excludes “Internet access without a subscription.”

Across the Central NY region, the number of homes with Internet connections varies greatly by neighborhood and poverty level.

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has mapped out computer ownership and home Internet access by Census tract. The maps below are screenshots from the maps on the NDIA website.

This map shows the percentage of households with cable, fiber or DSL Broadband Internet. The percentage varies greatly. At the highest end, 90-100% of households in parts of the North Syracuse / Clay area have some type of Internet. At the lowest end, only 10-30% of households in parts of the City of Syracuse and further South in Nedrow and LaFayette have Internet, with all percentages in between represented on the map.

This map shows a closer view of the City of Syracuse, mapping the percentage of households with cable, fiber or DSL Broadband Internet by Census tract.

One example of the inequity of household Internet access is on Syracuse’s North side. The neighborhood with 80-90% of Internet access, Sedgwick (green), has a higher household income than nearby neighborhoods (Washington Park, Northside, Near Northeast), which range from 20% to 60% connectivity (pink, orange, yellow), depending on the Census tract.

Why does digital inclusion matter?

Digital Inclusion can move our community toward Digital Equity, defined by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance as “a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning and access to essential services.”

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