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Black train car that says Silverton on the side

Behind the Numbers

Broadband brings changes to a little mountain town


2023 CHAS: Broadband Access

One in 20 Coloradans lack broadband access.

April 8, 2024

Access to fast, reliable internet service is a critical factor in health care access as important services ranging from health consultations to pharmacy services shift online.

And while state leaders are working to ensure that residents have access to broadband service, 4.7% of survey respondents reported that they did not have broadband internet access at home. While this amounts to less than one in 20 Coloradans, it still represents nearly 270,000 Colorado households who lack this important service.

For the first time, the 2023 CHAS asked respondents about broadband internet access and their reasons for not having it.

Cost as a barrier. Among those who did not have broadband internet access at home, more than half (51.0%) said the monthly cost of a home subscription was too expensive. Nearly one in five respondents (19.2%) said the cost of a device to connect to the internet was too expensive. Respondents could select multiple reasons for not having internet service.

Cost was a key barrier for Coloradans earning lower incomes. Among respondents with incomes at or below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), 11.1% didn’t have access to broadband internet. The FPL in 2023 was $14,580 for one person and $30,000 for a family of four. Among those making 200% or more of the FPL, the number of households lacking internet access dropped to less than 5%.

Colorado has a handful of programs designed to offset the cost of broadband internet for households with lower incomes, but a key program recently stopped accepting new applications due to lack of ongoing federal funding. Comcast also has a low-price internet option for people in its service area.

Geography makes a difference. For some households, broadband isn’t an option at any price. More than one in five respondents who did not have broadband internet said it was because service was not available where they lived.

This issue was particularly prominent in rural parts of the state. 

Perception of need. Some respondents lacked access because they didn’t see a need for it or felt they had other options. Among them, 17.6% said they could do everything they needed on a smartphone with a data plan, and 10.6% said they had options to access the internet outside their homes. Others noted privacy concerns (6.7%) and unacceptable internet speeds (3.6%) as reasons for forgoing home broadband access.

Demographic differences. Black or African Americans and Hispanic or Latino Coloradans were twice as likely to report that they didn’t have broadband access at home (8.6% and 7.2% respectively) as white Coloradans (3.5%). 

Adults over the age of 50 were also more likely to lack home internet access, although the rate of adults under the age of 25 without access was also higher. Coloradans who prefer to speak a language other than English at home also experienced significant disparities in broadband access.

Please see CHI’s statement on health disparities to see how historic and ongoing discrimination leads to gaps like this.