Poor and diverse areas of Seattle and Portland offered slower internet

In Seattle, about half of low-income areas are provided with slow internet, compared to only 19% of high-income areas.

CenturyLink customers in Seattle and Portland receive broad levels of service at the same price, as poorer residents and people of color are more likely to bear the brunt of slow speeds, according to a new analysis of digital inequality in US cities.

Seattle has the worst disparities among the cities examined in the Pacific Northwest. About half of low-income areas are provided with slow internet, compared to only 19% in high-income areas. Slow internet service was also given to addresses in neighborhoods with a larger population of color: 32.8% of them, compared to 18.7% in areas with a larger white population.

CenturyLink’s Portland offerings were also uneven, with 27% of addresses in lower-income areas offered speeds below the federal broadband standard of 25 Mbps, compared to 16% in high-income areas. In both Portland and Seattle, neighborhoods rated as “dangerous” on mortgage lenders’ mid-20th century “red lines” maps—which were used to discriminate against minority communities—are likely to see the worst Internet deals in both cities today.

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