Is it possible for a couple of words on one question in the U.S. Census to create data that misleads lawmakers, regulators, and the general public about the availability of broadband internet access in Rural America? A recent report from the American Farm Bureau Federation makes the case.
“At issue in the rural broadband debate is the way in which internet service providers are asked if they provide internet services to customers,” according to the report. “The survey question posed to services providers is if they “could” or “do” provide services to at least one location in the census block being surveyed. The ambiguous nature of this question results in a significant disconnect when measuring the availability of broadband access across rural America – as the ability to provide services is comingled with service that is actually provided.”