Archive for Digital divide — Detroit

New Census: No Internet connection for 52,000 Cleveland homes

More than 50,000 households in Cleveland and more than 90,000 in Detroit had no Internet access of any kind in 2015, according to the Census’ newly released American Community Survey.

That number excludes households with smartphones, dial-up modems or “Internet access without a subscription”. Here are the details:


(Click on chart for full size view)

The Census says “Internet access without a subscription” covers community wifi access and Internet in college dorms. But the category may well also include mobile access purchased without “subscriptions”, like data cards from Wal-Mart or Target.

Among households that do have Internet access, the cable companies — Time Warner in Cleveland and Comcast in Detroit — are the biggest providers by far.  AT&T’s DSL service holds a distant second place in both cities.

2015 Census: “Fixed broadband” in only half of Cleveland, Detroit households

Last Thursday the Census released its 2015 American Community Survey One Year Estimates, which includes household Internet data for cities with more than 65,000 residents.

According to the new ACS data, only 52% of Cleveland households and just 46% of Detroit households had “fixed broadband” Internet connections in 2015.

Cleveland’s 2015 percentage was third lowest among all U.S. cities with 50,000 or more households.  Detroit’s was dead last.

“Fixed broadband” includes cable, DSL, fiber and satellite Internet services — that is, everything but mobile devices and dial-up modems. About 71% of all U.S. households had fixed broadband access last year.

We’ll have more on the new ACS data soon.


AT&T will include slower Internet speeds in discount program after all, thanks to NDIA

An update on our last post...

CNN Money reported on Friday, and AT&T has now confirmed, that the company has reconsidered its earlier decision to deny “Access From AT&T” discount service to thousands of SNAP households living in areas of Cleveland and Detroit where Internet speeds are less than 3 mbps down.

From the CNN Money story:

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a public interest group, pushed AT&T to make the $5 a month offer available for customers whose service doesn’t reach 3 Mbps.

AT&T at first said it would stick to the strict terms of the FCC order. But Friday, after a series of stories appeared in tech media and on CNNMoney, the company changed course.

“We’re currently working to expand the eligibility process of Access from AT&T to the 2% of our home internet customers unable to receive internet speed tiers of 3 Mbps and above,” said spokesman Brett Levecchio.

Here’s the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s statement in response.

NDIA first approached AT&T about the problem after CYC reported that eligible applicants in Cleveland were being turned down for $5-$10 Access connections because the maximum AT&T Internet speeds available at their homes were too low.

It seems those households and their eligible neighbors will soon be able to get Access service after all, thanks to what NDIA calls AT&T’s “change of heart”.

Slow AT&T service will block thousands of Cleveland, Detroit households from promised Access discounts

In a new post at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance blog, Angela Siefer describes her unsuccessful effort to persuade AT&T to remedy a major shortcoming of its “Access From AT&T” low-income discount program. The problem: $5-to-$10-a-month Access accounts are only available to SNAP recipients whose homes can get AT&T Internet connections at speeds of 3 mbps or more. This speed threshold, which AT&T has now refused to lower, will exclude tens of thousands of otherwise eligible households in AT&T-served areas, from inner-city Cleveland and Detroit to rural Mississippi, where new Internet service is limited to 1.5 mbps (download) or less.

Yes, you read that right. It turns out there are places in the heart of Cleveland and Detroit where the fastest new Internet service AT&T will offer at any price is 1.5 mbps or even 768 kbps.  And not just a few places. Data collected by the FCC via its Form 477 reporting process, and made available at the Census block level for the first time early this year, indicates that 1.5 mbps or 768 kbps is the maximum reported speed for AT&T’s current version of home DSL service (VDSL) in about one-fifth of all Cleveland and Detroit Census blocks.

Here’s that information in map form. (Hint: Click the little double arrow on the left side of each map to open it in full screen mode.)

Connect Your Community first took a hard look at this FCC data a few months ago, when we were trying to understand why some of the first eligible SNAP participants whom our partners helped to apply for Access were being told they couldn’t qualify, due to the service available at their addresses.  We’ve been surprised (to put it mildly) to learn that AT&T’s available Internet service is so slow, in such large parts of our lower income neighborhoods, that the Access program’s discount rate opportunity will be denied to thousands of our neighbors who need it the most.  We’re even more surprised that AT&T has declined to take the easy step of lowering its Access speed threshold to help remedy this injustice.

Stay tuned.  More to come.