The use of broadband has expanded rapidly over the past five years. More and more people use the internet for work, commerce, and communication, as well as for a source of news, information and entertainment. The internet also helps people find employment, succeed in school, and keep in touch with family and friends.
Despite these changes, broadband adoption in the home has recently declined. Many still lack or are unable to afford this critical service, forming a digital divide that creates disadvantages for those without service.
This divide is especially critical in rural and low income areas, and is a pressing concern for many New Mexico communities. According to the Intelligent Community Institute at Mississippi State University, the key indicators for the digital divide include low population density as well as socioeconomic factors such as education levels and income. New Mexico high rural nature, high levels of poverty and low educational achievement, all contribute to the state’s large digital divide. This is especially pronounced in counties that are most characterized by these factors, such as Catron, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Luna, Quay, Sierra and Socorro County.
The White House 2016 report on the digital divide underscores the persistence of the digital divide with almost one third of households still lacking broadband service at home. The good news is that recognition of these gaps has spurred an increase in funding for broadband service. Other funding programs, such as promise neighborhoods, bring advantages to neighborhoods committed to providing multi-layered systems of support for educational success for children within their communities.