SALT LAKE CITY — New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau finds Utahns are among the most connected of anyone in the United States. But internet access, it turns out, depends on where you live.
Overall, 84 percent of all Utah households have some type of internet subscription, with some counties exceeding a 90 percent connectivity rate. According to the census figures, only New Hampshire has more people connected to the World Wide Web.
“It’s really been a priority of the state to have a significant broadband infrastructure,” Natalie Gochnour, the director of University of Utah’s Kem C Gardner Policy Institute, says.
Gouchnour adds residents in Emery and Carbon counties, known as ‘coal country,’ have better broadband than some places in the Salt Lake City Avenues. And 75 percent of those rural homes are connected.
The same cannot be said for people living in the southeast section of the Beehive State.
In San Juan County, which is ten times the size of Salt Lake County, the census found only half its residents have access to the internet or broadband. Part of that land includes the Navajo reservation, where not all residents have electricity.
A member of the San Juan School Board, Elsie Dee, says she sees dozens of cars every weekday evening parked at tribal houses across the county. Faces are aglow as people work on homework or other tasks from tablets logged in to the Wi-fi at the only sources of connectivity available.
“Utah sees Broadband expansion as a business and job growth opportunity,” Ginger Chinn, Utah’s Urban and Rural Business Services director, says.
However, Chin also says the sheer size and widely dispersed population of San Juan County presents significant challenges for internet infrastructure development.
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