Changes in Mobile Broadband Infrastructure in Rural Georgia During the Covid-19 Pandemic

28 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2021

See all articles by Ellen Zegura

Ellen Zegura

School of Computer Science

Luísa Nazareno

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University

Cathy Yang Liu

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Date Written: July 31, 2021

Abstract

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 brought the challenge of unequal access to center stage. This paper investigates if the crisis translated into a disruption of mobile broadband infrastructure, taking Georgia as a case study. We hypothesize that the pandemic outbreak could have slowed down ongoing infrastructure provision initiatives, as in other segments of the economy, or spurred them, by bringing renewed attention and resources to the digital divide. We borrow data from Skyhook – a location services company – to identify changes in visible infrastructure between March 2019 and September 2020. Then, we combine this data with sociodemographic data from the American Community Survey to identify the groups affected by any changes. We find that the mobile broadband scene in Georgia has evolved at a slower yet linear pace, especially in rural and micropolitan areas. Further, expansion in the post-pandemic was concentrated in areas with higher proportions of racial minorities and households without any type of broadband subscription.

Keywords: Rural broadband, digital equity, Covid-19

Suggested Citation

Zegura, Ellen and Nazareno, Luísa and Liu, Cathy Yang, Changes in Mobile Broadband Infrastructure in Rural Georgia During the Covid-19 Pandemic (July 31, 2021). TPRC49: The 49th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3898212 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3898212

Ellen Zegura

School of Computer Science ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30332
United States

Luísa Nazareno (Contact Author)

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University ( email )

GA
United States

Cathy Yang Liu

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies ( email )

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

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