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The Secret to Good Nebraskan Internet? Location, Location ...

A study by the Bureau of Sociological Research found the vast majority of 1,450 Nebraskans surveyed considered their home Internet service to be very reliable. But where they lived played a large role in their answers.

(TNS) -- A vast majority of Nebraskans said their home Internet is very or mostly dependable, according to the 2023 Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The study by the Bureau of Sociological Research found 45% of the 1,450 Nebraskans surveyed believe their home internet service is very dependable, while 41% reported their online connection is mostly reliable.

But where Nebraskans live plays a large role in whether they reported their Internet was reliable or fast, the survey found, while other factors such as age, education level and income also show disparities.

For example, 50% of Nebraskans living in cities or towns told UNL researchers their home Internet is very dependable, while only 26% of those living on a farm or in the open country felt the same way.

Those living outside of population centers were more likely to report their Internet connection being just somewhat or not dependable. Twenty-eight percent of Nebraskans who live on farms and 22% of those living in open country said their connection was not reliable, the survey found.

For Nebraskans living in and around Omaha, 9 out of 10 were most likely to say their Internet connection was very or mostly dependable, while in Southeast Nebraska, including Lincoln, 87% of survey respondents said their Internet was very or mostly dependable.

Other regions of the state — which have been a focus for Nebraska lawmakers who have appropriated funds to connect them with broadband internet — reported less-dependable Internet, according to the survey.

In northern Nebraska, nearly 30% said their internet was not dependable, while 23% of respondents from the Panhandle also reported having somewhat or not dependable Internet.

The UNL survey also found other sociological factors affect how dependable and fast respondents said their Internet is.

Roughly 90% of Nebraskans aged 19 to 44 said their Internet was both reliable and fast compared to about 80% of respondents 65 years and older.

More than half (53%) of Nebraskans in the younger age bracket said their Internet was very dependable, while 42% described it as very fast. Just 36% of Nebraskans older than 65 said their Internet was very dependable, and only 19% described it as fast.

Nebraskans with higher levels of education also reported having more dependable connections and faster Internet speeds in the latest survey.

Of those with a bachelor’s degree, 93% said they had very dependable or mostly dependable Internet, compared to 74% of those with a high school diploma.

In terms of Internet speed, 93% of those with a college degree described their Internet speed as very fast or somewhat fast, while 80% of respondents who did not go to college said the same.

Nebraskans with higher incomes were also more likely to describe having reliable and fast connections in their homes.

Fewer than 20% of respondents who reported incomes less than $30,000 said their Internet connection was very fast compared to 41% of those with incomes greater than $100,000, for example.

The “Nebraska Snapshot” put out by UNL’s Bureau of Sociological Research last week comes as federal and state lawmakers have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into connecting unserved and underserved areas of Nebraska with high-speed Internet.

Last year, Nebraska learned it would receive $405 million in federal money as part of the Broadband Equity, Access and Development program created by Congress in 2021.

That funding could help connect an estimated 50,000 households this year.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission also has made more than $150 million available to Internet service providers in the form of grants to reach areas without connection speeds of 100 megabits per second.

According to Cullen Robbins, director of the Nebraska Universal Service Fund and telecommunications for the Public Service Commission, a total of $59.2 million has been allocated through the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Program.

Since its inception in 2021, the Bridge Program has connected 5,431 unserved and 11,477 underserved locations to high-speed Internet throughout the state.

Another broadband infrastructure program administered by the Public Service Commission, the Capital Projects Fund, has provided $92.3 million in grants to connect 2,442 unserved and 7,520 underserved homes since it was created in 2023.

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