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Variations in Internet Access Across Kansas (February 2021)

By Emily Burgen, M.P.H., Wen-Chieh Lin, Ph.D. | February 09, 2021

Variations in Internet Access Across Kansas (February 2021)

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With social distancing, reduced health care services and school building closings during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing need for adequate internet access, which is required for telehealth, education, business and social activities. While information is available on areas with broadband coverage, households still might not have adequate internet access due to technical and infrastructure issues, or prohibitive costs.

This brief examines variations in adequate internet access by geography, population characteristics, insurance coverage and other factors to better understand how each one impacts Kansans.

Key points from the brief include:

  • Adequate internet access — which is dependent on both device availability and a high-speed internet connection — is critical for telehealth, virtual learning and staying connected in a socially-distanced manner.
  • Three in 10 (29.8 percent or 884,700) Kansans did not have adequate internet access. There was a six-fold difference between the regions with the highest (46.4 percent) and lowest (7.7 percent) inadequate internet access rates.
  • Kansans who are non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic, Any Race, were more likely to lack adequate internet access than were non-Hispanic White Kansans (45.6 percent, 39.8 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively).
  • Nearly half (48.6 percent) of Kansans with household income less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) lacked adequate internet access.
  • Even among those with household income greater than 400 percent FPL, one in five (19.5 percent) lacked adequate internet access, suggesting that the barriers are more than just financial.

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.