BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Internet usage is at an all-time high in California, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California. But there's a digital divide between urban and rural communities that's dividing parts of Kern County.
About 83 percent of Kern County households have a computer, and more than 73 percent use broadband Internet, according to U.S. Census data collected between 2013 to 2017. But outside of Bakersfield city limits, far fewer homes have high-speed internet.
"Bakersfield is one of the main through-put areas of the internet's traffic, yet if you go just 10, 15 miles outside of that, to Arvin for example, you, you have very limited or no resources at all," Paul Quinn, chief information officer for a Kern River Valley hospital said.
Quinn lives in the Kern River Valley, where roughly 40 to 60 percent of households have high speed internet, according to census data collected between 2012 and 2016.
The data, mapped by the PPIC, shows parts of other towns, like Arvin, Lamont, and California City are also sparsely connected with high-speed internet.
Socioeconomic differences may play a role. The PPIC found gaps in connectivity were predominant in low-income, Latino, and rural communities within California. Many households said they either could not afford broadband or were otherwise not interested in having it, unless they accessed the internet on their phone.
So, Quinn is introducing his own solution. He's rolling out a high-speed internet provider called Lake Linx to serve the Kern River Valley. It's set to launch later this spring.