Growth and use of smartphones and devices in MN from 2000 to today

The Minneapolis Star Tribune takes data released this month from the American Community Survey and turns it into some really nice graphics and charts. They showcase the growth of digital devices from 2000 to today.

The evolution of technological adoption is an interesting look at who has what. You can see the steady increase of internet access as opposed to the steep incline of the tablet. It’s interesting to speculate the impact on social media and phone and internet and devices. As more options become available it seems as if all growth increases. (Laptops and workstations aren’t in the chart.)

And you can see the Minnesotans seem to be a little ahead of the national numbers – or as we like to say, well above average!

Record breaking traffic – 60 Terabits Per Second (Tbps) on Sep 12

Akamai Technologies reports

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), the world’s largest and most trusted cloud delivery platform, announced today that it set a new record on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017, for the peak level of traffic delivered on its network. At more than 60 Tbps, the number eclipsed the previous record of 47 Tbps set on August 29th, 2017. The new peak was driven by several major events taking place concurrently on top of the normal day-to-day traffic that Akamai delivers.

SO what is Terabytes Per Second?

Terabytes per second (TBps) refers to a data transmission rate equivalent to 1,000 gigabytes, or 1,000,000,000,000 bytes per second. This extremely fast data transfer rate is used to quantify various kinds of data transmission between pieces of equipment or software environments, or for some other kinds of data handling. Terabytes per second may also go by the acronym TB/s.

So why do I mention it?

Because it gets to the issue that broadband demand is continually growing – at the individual, community, state and worldwide level.

How does Minnesota’s digital divide compare?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

Nationally, about 77 percent of Americans have a high-speed internet connection, served up via broadband networks either on their home computers, tablets, phones or other devices, according to 2015 data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Minnesota, while slightly ahead of the national rate, lags behind many states on the West Coast and Northeast where home broadband is most common.

How do they define broadband?

Measuring whether someone has broadband at home – which the survey defines as either cable, DSL, fiber optic, satellite, mobile broadband, or fixed wireless online connections on any device – has basically become a proxy for whether they have internet at all. Older forms of online connectivity have become relatively rare. (About 14,000 households still use dial-up in Minnesota.)

How did MN do?

Minnesota came in at about 80 percent, according to the survey conducted in 2015. More recent studies limited to Minnesota yielded slightly higher estimates for the state.

The article also shares a map from the Office of Broadband Development

Upper MN River Valley Counties talk about why they need broadband

The West Central Tribune reports…

Of the five counties served by the Upper Minnesota River Valley Regional Development Commission, Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties have the farthest to go to provide broadband services in their rural areas.

Chippewa and Yellow Medicine are working to make that better…

The RDC hosted a series of six meetings with rural residents in Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties during the past year to identify the issues and demand.

The meetings made evident the interest that exists in the rural areas of the two counties, and the needs, according to Laura Ostlie with the RDC.

She heard from businesses in areas ranging from Clara City to Canby who cited the challenges they face due to limitations they now experience. In some cases, businesses are turning to costly access to the internet through their mobile phones to meet their needs.

Of those who attended the meetings, 97 percent have internet access, and 87 percent said they had six or more devices that used it. Just over half, or 56 percent of those attending the meetings, rated their current service as “poor.”

Residents would pay more for better service…

Surveys at the meetings revealed rural customers in the two counties are paying an average of $51 a month for internet service. One third said they are willing to pay $30 more per month for improved service.

Brookings looks at broadband access and use – how does MN look?

Brookings Institute is looking at broadband access and adoption. I wrote about it from the urban-rural perspective this morning. (Spoiler alert: rural is behind!) This afternoon I thought I’d look at what they are saying about Minnesota – and by Minnesota I really mean St Paul-Minneapolis.

Before we look at the specifics, it’s helpful to look at their definitions and how they came to conclusions:

  • Used FCC’s Form 477 and the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (Dec 2015)
  • Low subscription neighborhood: one where fewer than 40 percent of households subscribed to broadband.
  • Moderate subscription neighborhood: had adoption rates between 40 and 80 percent
  • High subscription neighborhood: one where more than 80 percent of households subscribed to broadband.
  • They focused on metropolitan areas.

Here’s a map – indicating (among other things) that 3.1-6 percent of the Twin Cities neighborhoods do not have access to 25/3 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up).

The Twin Cities has 567,459 (or 16.4 percent) residents living in low-subscription neighborhoods.

Here’s how the Twin Cities ranked:

  • Metro Availability at 25/3 – 96.4%
  • Subscription GINI* – .38
  • Combined score – .77
  • Combined rank – 70 (out of 100)

*GINI coefficient (statistical measure of the degree in variation in data) of the subscription quintiles, where higher scores correlate with a higher proportion of the population living in higher-subscription neighborhoods.

They show what a map of the data looks like comparing San Diego and San Antonio. It would be valuable to see this for the Twin Cities. The report gives a nod to the Office of Broadband Development for their annual reports. They don’t list the work done by the City of Minneapolis – who did a community technology survey in 2014. It would be awesome to see a combination of the Brookings and Minneapolis work.

It seems like Brookings is doing research to impact policy – to see which areas need greatest support. A goal of the Minneapolis survey was similar but more granular and service oriented. They wanted to see where the libraries needed to be open longer and provide greater access to computer (which neighborhoods didn’t have home access). Which areas maybe has access and technology but needed more training. In which areas should you work through the schools and where was it better to work through work programs of elder services.

Both are great way to effect change with good info!

Brookings looks at broadband access and use – rural areas are falling behind!

Brookings Institute is looking at broadband access and adoption…

As federal, state, and local policymakers pursue universal access to in-home broadband, neighborhood-level indicators confer multiple advantages. First, broadband infrastructure is not deployed equally within regions, municipalities, and rural counties. Identifying these gaps can help target policies to boost availability. Second, understanding how neighborhood-level subscription varies will enable policymakers and practitioners to more effectively target their limited resources to boost adoption among populations and neighborhoods most in need. (In this analysis, neighborhoods are approximated by census tracts. For more information on this and other methodological details, please download the full report.)

It’s interesting and important work. There a lot to unpack in the report – so much that I am doing two posts on it. This morning I’ll look at what we can glean for rural areas and this afternoon I’ll look at what they say about the Twin Cities. I just think two bites are better than a big gulp.

Much of the data used in the report comes from 2015. They use 10/1 (10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps) to measure access through most of the report, which is a definition the FCC has used (certainly it’s the definition they use for most CAF 2 requirements although they do go as low as 4/1). This is frustrating because a lot of lip service is paid to the 25/3 definition but my frustration is with the FCC, not this report. In fact I think this report does a good job of illustrating what a difference a definition makes…

This distinction is especially important at a time when the FCC is talking about lowering the definition of broadband – so more people “will have access”. That sounds an awful lot like two plus two is five. We can call lower speeds broadband but if you can’t Skype with the potential employer – it’s not enough.

Brookings calls out the urban-rural divide specifically…

And a statistic that does not bode well for the future of rural areas…

When seven out of ten teachers assign homework that requires broadband – these kids are losing out and/or they are going about the learning process without a tool that most of us would consider essential to our work and life. They will be behind their urban/wired counterparts when it comes to college assignments or job seeking.

And how many are at risk? Two Thirds of rural residents!

But the report isn’t just about framing the issue. It is a primer for policy makers and those who want to influence policy makers. And here is the image I find most powerful. It details the local government responsibility/regulation. If you are a community – these are your trump cards – based on your geography and seat at the table.

Three investments for improving upward mobility in rural areas: people, technology and family planning

Brookings recently reported on recent research Rural dreams: Upward mobility in America’s countryside, which looks at which rural areas best led to inter-generational upward mobility…

Certain rural counties have some of the highest mobility rates in the country, while others are “mobility traps,” where children born to disadvantaged circumstances are extremely unlikely to get ahead.

Taking a deeper look at these rural areas, the authors find that counties that had the highest rates of upward mobility also had (among other things):

  • higher out-migration rates, particularly among youth and young adults,

  • higher quality K-12 education,

  • improved measures of family stability,

  • and stronger local labor markets.

And what can be done to improve upward mobility…

The paper lists three arenas that seem particularly promising for bolstering opportunity in rural America.

  1. Invest in human capital development. Improving K-12 quality in distressed areas will improve young residents’ life prospects and preparedness for adulthood.

  2. Ensure rural communities are equipped with basic 21stcentury infrastructure. Technology such as broadband will enable families and schools in these areas to better connect to distant economies and opportunities.

  3. Invest in family planning.Rural residents are less likely to have access to affordable and quality health care, which makes intentional parenthood all the more difficult.

A key word here is investment.