Home Census Find out where New York’s digital deserts are

Find out where New York’s digital deserts are

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Among the patchwork of dead zones woven across the state are those who never experience a broken connection. They never had one in the first place.

For these New Yorkers, technology is out of reach. More than a third of New York’s lowest-income households report no Internet subscription. Those who are behind in adapting high-speed Internet at rates not seen in other income brackets.

And for others, the ability to connect to the digital realm exists only in the palm of their hand – about 7% in the state rely solely on a smartphone. Without a home computer, they are left to the capabilities of a portable device and often the vagaries of a cellular data connection.

The Times Union analyzed data from the US Census Bureau to reveal these deserts of accessibility and opportunity.

The barrier to access comes in many forms: the family without a home computer, the schoolchild without an Internet subscription, or the older generation left behind. But beyond household access issues, opportunities are becoming scarce in a world that revolves around the web. Larger gaps are reported for the unemployed, accelerating the exit from poverty and entry into the labor market.

The data reveals that New York has not been a leader in closing these gaps. In fact, it was one of the states that had made the least progress in expanding household broadband Internet subscriptions in recent years.


The divide is summarized by counties where about a quarter of households report no internet subscriptions, according to 5-year data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2016-2020.

In the same counties, only about half of households reported modern broadband Internet subscriptions, compared to 80% in Saratoga County.

Three counties in the state reported that more than 1% of households had only a dial-up Internet subscription: Schoharie, Allegany and Lewis County. Meanwhile, New York’s headline rate was below 0.3%.

Poverty draws some of the sharpest divides for Internet subscriptions. The barrier to both overall household internet and high speeds is divided by income.

While more than a third of the two households in the lowest income bracket reported no Internet subscription, the existence of slower dial-up Internet access rests almost solely on households in the lowest income bracket. weak.

Meanwhile, numerical disparities pose barriers for unemployed workers trying to enter the labor market. Unemployed New Yorkers face higher rates of lack of access to a home computer and Internet subscription than employed people.

As technology advanced and internet speeds increased, data shows that older generations have been left behind.

Older New Yorkers are much less likely to have a computer and an internet subscription – around 18% of people aged 65 and over said they had no computer in the household, compared to around 3% in others age groups.

New York is not leading the way in bridging digital disparities. The state ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to the rate of home computer absence in the United States


The US Census has been collecting household computer and internet data since 2013 as part of the Broadband Improvement Act of 2008.

But how have things evolved since then?

While New York had a higher percentage of household broadband internet than most states in 2013, the state expanded access to broadband subscriptions at one of the slowest growth rates in the states. -United.

New York was slightly below the national average for high-speed internet access in 2020, 0.1% below the national rate of 84.5%.

Washington leads the nation with 90% of households reporting high-speed Internet subscriptions. States like Colorado, Utah and California are close behind with around 89%.

To become a leading state in reducing digital disparities, New York still has a long way to go.