Over 1 million people in Kansas live in a zip code where recorded average download speeds are below 100 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream, according to a new broadband speed test study conducted by the University of Kansas Institute for Policy & Social Research.
This includes approximately 87,000 Kansans who live in zip codes with average speeds below 25/3 Mbps.
The study was conducted between January 2021 and January 2022 and had more than 6,800 respondents living in 557 Kansas zip codes. Respondents’ internet connections were given an automatic speed test. In addition, the respondents answered questions about at-home broadband access, affordability and adoption.
The study received funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center CARES Act.
“It’s well known that 25/3 is already an outdated baseline for adequate internet connection and will only prove more inadequate as internet needs increase,” said Germaine Halegoua, John D. Evans development professor and associate professor of communication and media at the University of Michigan and member of the team that conducted the study. “The fact that at least 3% of Kansas don’t even have this subpar connection is alarming. It’s like saying that 3% of the population lacks access to any other utility.”
Halegoua made her comment in a press release about the broadband speed test study, which includes a map of the findings. That map shows that areas lacking higher-speed broadband tend to be in rural areas or in areas on the edge of city limits.
FCC data shows that about 2.4% of Kansans live in census blocks where internet providers report average speeds below 25/3 Mbps, according to the press release.
The press release doesn’t state whether that finding comes from the Form 477 data collected by the FCC from service providers, which has been the commission’s main source for broadband availability information and which has determined areas eligible for various funding programs. The Form 477 data has been broadly questioned because it considers an entire census block to have service available to it even if only one location in the block can get service.
The new finding that at least 3% of Kansans lack 25/3 Mbps service supports the view that the FCC data overestimates how widely available 25/3 Mbps service is available.
The FCC has begun a process to collect more granular information. Updated data is expected to be available late this year or early next year.