As more and more states make broadband investment a priority, it is important to develop metrics to help identify areas in dire need of investment, measure adoption of the technology and track progress over time. This page provides a quick overview of the factors affecting both broadband infrastructure deployment and broadband adoption. In addition, a series of indices measuring both availability and adoption in North Carolina is presented.

Broadband-related metrics typically fall into two categories: availability and adoption.

In the availability category, some indicators utilized include access to types of technology, number of providers and access to specific speed thresholds. In addition, it is important to shed light on the quality of service such as slower speeds and large differences between download and upload speeds (known as asymmetrical service). Lastly, barriers to infrastructure deployment such as the age and density of housing units are also important to include.

Regarding adoption, one variable is the share of homes subscribing to DSL, cable or fiber or not subscribing at all (no internet access). However, research points to other variables that affect technology adoption including but not limited to age, income, the presence of children and educational attainment. These variables must also be included to measure adoption potential in addition to absolute adoption. It is important to keep in mind that one key variable that affects adoption is missing from these indices: cost of service. This variable is not included because it is not available from secondary data sources.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publishes data on the share of homes with at least 10 megabits per second download and 1 Mbps upload, or 10/1 for short. This speed threshold is much lower than the minimum 25/3 Mbps also stipulated by the FCC, which could result in potentially misleading adoption levels, so it is not used.