ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Approximately 90.3% of American households have a computer in their home, and 82.7% have internet service, according to the most recent information released from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The percent of homes with a computer or internet in New York, weren’t too far away from the national average. Approximately 89.6% of households in the state have a computer, and 82.8% of them internet service.
A lack of internet service was thrust into the limelight last year as school districts, educators, and parents across the state spoke up about the inability of some students to access the internet, a crucial component of remote education.
The state stepped in to try and solve internet connectivity equity by telling internet providers they had to offer a $15/month plan for low income families. Internet providers had to begin offering a reduced fee internet plan beginning June 15.
In some areas, mobile hotspots were created to help families without internet service and the Federal government set up a program that used emergency COVID funding to help people pay temporarily for internet service.
The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) held a series of meetings centered around bringing about internet equality in the state. Using data from the American Community Survey, NYSED determined New York’s poor, older, and minority communities were the least likely to have a computer or access to the internet.
The average percentage of homes in 11 Capital Region counties with internet is 81.1%, with percentages lower than the average seen throughout the rural counties of Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington.
The percentage of homes with a computer in the Capital Region varies between the lowest, 84% (Greene County) and the highest, 93.4% (Saratoga County). Greene County also had the lowest percentage of homes with internet (73.5%), and Schenectady County had the highest (93.8%).
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Because the program started in June, it’s too early to tell if a reduced fee internet plan has made an impact, as Census data was gathered in 2020. Computer/internet information was taken from 2015-2019.
Future Census surveys could show a much different scenario, especially in a county such as Fulton, where 16.4% of the population lives in poverty, the highest of the 11 counties NEWS10 researched, based on Census data.
The program has the potential to help more kids stay connected to digital classrooms, should districts decide to once again move students to remote learning in the coming school year because of the recent rise in COVID cases, or other public health/safety concerns in the future.
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