Tech Policy

Joint Center Releases New Data on Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South

WASHINGTON — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released an issue brief summarizing the challenges and solutions in expanding broadband in the Black Rural South (Southern rural counties with populations that are 35 percent Black or higher).

In the issue brief, Joint Center Technology Policy Director Dr. Dominique Harrison found that 38 percent of African Americans in the Black Rural South lack broadband access.

Dr. Harrison also compiled new data on household income and broadband availability in the Black Rural South that suggest that affordability and availability are reasons that Black families in the region lack broadband. Broadband access could advance education, workforce training, employment, and health care in the region through online learning, remote work, small business growth, and telemedicine. The issue brief provides a list of recommendations for policymakers to ensure high-speed, quality broadband is affordable and available in the Black Rural South.

“For Black Americans, lack of access to broadband is a problem in both metropolitan and rural areas, and broadband is a necessity for all Americans especially as telework, online learning, and telehealth become more prevalent,” said Joint Center Technology Policy Director Dr. Dominique Harrison. “As President Biden and Congress work to pass an infrastructure bill, increasing broadband access and affordability must be a priority, especially in places with the greatest need like the Black Rural South.”

The Joint Center’s issue brief, Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South, summarizes the research that will be detailed in our forthcoming 45-page report on the same topic by Dr. Harrison.