By Donna Durckel, County of San Diego Communications Office
January 22, 2023 (San Diego's East County) - A recent analysis of census data as part of the County Comprehensive Broadband Plan showed that approximately 37,000 households in the unincorporated area of San Diego don’t have a broadband internet subscription. This places them at a disadvantage when it comes to things such as online education, healthcare services or emergency notifications.
The report is the latest effort by the County to address inadequate broadband infrastructure and access in its communities.
- 92% of surveyed residents in the unincorporated area did not maintain an at-home internet subscription as a result of availability, reliability, or affordability concerns
- 58% of these residents say internet access is not available in their area
- 19% say internet access is too expensive
- 15% say internet speeds are too slow
- Areas in need of infrastructure tend to be located in rural, desert, mountainous areas in north and east county (e.g., Valley Center, Mountain Empire).
- These “internet deserts” are typically more rural, more mountainous, and lower income than their suburban peers. Residents within these communities often pay higher prices for lower speed internet access.
- Communities with low access in the region tend to be more rural and have populations with non-English speakers, lower education levels, and more poverty than average in the county.
- Income influences access to quality internet speed.
- Thanks to a $4.3M federal grant, the County Library was already able to create the Tech Connect program which puts laptops and Mi-Fi hot spots into the hands of 7,000 people in its service area who lack access to the internet and a computer. Library card holders can check out a laptop and air card for one year, free of charge.
- The County has also partnered with SANDAG on its Get Connected Campaign to advance affordable internet service and digital literacy programs.
- Through a partnership with Caltrans, we have identified opportunities to leverage already planned roadway projects to deploy fiber and expand high-speed broadband service to our underserved communities at the same time.