January 12 2021
Regional/County Profiles

Capital Region Has 20th Highest Concentration of Households with High-Speed Broadband Subscriptions

As 2021 opens with the likelihood of several more months of work from home and virtual classes, the Capital Region will benefit having one of the nation’s highest concentrations among metropolitan commutersheds1 of households with high-speed broadband subscriptions.2 The region also has as one of the smallest gaps between households with high-speed broadband and other Internet subscriptions, according a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Commuter Sheds

New 2020 five-year estimates show 73 percent of households in the Albany-Schenectady combined statistical area (CSA), which includes all Capital Region counties except Greene, had a high-speed broadband subscriptions. This includes cable, fiber and DSL. That was the 20th highest concentration of high-speed broadband household subscribers among 172 CSAs, which are metropolitan commuter sheds. At 90.4 percent, the Seattle-Tacoma CSA had the highest concentration and the Cleveland-Indianola CSA had the lowest at 60.5 percent.

In the Albany-Schenectady CSA, 396,780 households had Internet subscriptions, but only 344,313 of them were for high-speed broadband. Other subscription types include satellite and dialup. It is not clear how many of those households subscribe to these other Internet services due to a lack of access to cable, fiber or DSL or due to consumer preference or ability to pay. At 11.1 percentage points, the Albany-Schenectady CSA had the 11th smallest gap between total Internet and high-speed broadband household subscriber among CSAs. The Boston-Worcester-Providence CSA had the smallest gap at 8.6 percentage points, and the DeRidder-Fort Polk South CSA in Louisiana had the widest at 31.9 percentage points.

Capital Region

Despite its strong rankings on the national level, the eight-county Capital Region (including Greene County) has stark differences in high-speed broadband household subscribership, especially among rural and urban counties. The counties with the highest concentrations of households with high-speed broadband subscriptions were Saratoga (81.0 percent) and Schenectady (76.5 percent) counties. Those with the lowest were Washington (73.8 percent) and Greene (55.2 percent) counties.

The range of household high-speed broadband subscription rates among Capital Region towns is broad, spanning from 87.1 percent to 7.9 percent. The towns with the highest concentrations are Clifton Park (87.1 percent), Wilton (85.1 percent), Guilderland (84.1 percent), Ballston (83.7 percent) and Malta (83.4 percent). The towns with the lowest concentrations are Hebron (7.9 percent), Lexington (13 percent), Dresden (25.2 percent), Prattsville (25.8 percent) and Putnam (27.5 percent). Among these towns, satellite Internet subscriptions were as high as 33.2 percent in Hebron and 4 percent for dialup with no other Internet subscription in Dresden, both of which are in Washington County.

Improving Access

More high-speed broadband is coming to the Capital Region’s rural communities through $99.9 million in awards from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction that Re. Paul Tonko helped secure. The funding will support the expansion of high-speed broadband to 46,647 locations statewide, including 55 in Albany County, five in Schenectady County, 15 in Rensselaer County and 187 in Saratoga County. Several Capital Region communities will be served with high-speed, low-latency Internet by SpaceX. Most current satellite services do not rival the download speeds of landline-based cable, fiber and DSL.

New York State also has a Broadband Program Office (NYS BPO). In 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo created a $500 million New NY Broadband Program, which aims to bring Internet access ranging in speeds from 25 to 100 Megabits-per-second (MBPs).



1 Metropolitan commutershed = combined statistical area (CSA).

2The Census Bureau commonly categorizes cable, DSL, and fiber-optic connections under the “high speed” broadband category. See this Census Bureau study and infographic.


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