Broadband available, but many don’t tap into it in Washington County

As federal officials debate pouring billions of dollars into broadband access, data suggests more than half the Tri-State area’s schoolchildren and adults who preferred to work from home spent the pandemic with subpar access to high-speed internet.

A USA TODAY analysis of data nationwide found a wide gap between rich and poor counties, as measured by median household income. The chasm varies depending on state and county. 

Advocates say the “digital divide” across the United States is due largely to two factors: a lack of internet infrastructure in the country’s rural reaches, and the relatively high cost of broadband that has made the service unaffordable for many in urban centers.

In about half of Maryland’s counties measured by a Federal Communications Commission study, broadband access is available to at least 98% of residents. Yet in about half the state measured by Microsoft, no more than 55% of households actually have high-speed internet, a USA TODAY analysis shows.