Internet Inequity in Chicago: Adoption, Affordability, and Availability
16 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2022
Date Written: August 5, 2022
Lack of access to high-quality Internet connectivity affects how people participate in all aspects of life, from education to work to recreation; disparities in Internet access thus carry over into many other aspects of life. Historically, the discussions on Internet inequity centers mainly around the rural vs. urban divide in the United States. The Covid-19 pandemic has also brought the prevalence of Internet inequity in urban areas to the broader collective attention. To further the study of this issue, this paper characterizes the state of Internet equity in Chicago, focusing on different dimensions of Internet equity, including availability, affordability, and adoption. To this end, we combine multiple existing datasets to understand the digital divide in Chicago and the contributing factors. Our findings show disparity in broadband adoption rates across neighborhoods in Chicago: Broadband adoption varies between 58--93\% across community areas, with low access areas mostly concentrated in South and West Chicago. Furthermore, adoption rates are positively correlated with income and education level and negatively correlated with age. The former highlights the need to provide affordable Internet access, while the latter suggests introducing technology training programs, especially for the elderly. We also find disparity in broadband availability---with the number of ISP options in a census block significantly varying across the city, indicating infrastructure equity issues.
Keywords: digital divide, internet equity, broadband adoption, broadband availability
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation