To evaluate actions taken to implement the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the primary goal of which was to foster competition in the industry, the FCC created a standardized form (Form 477) to collect information about broadband deployment and competition in local telephone service. These data represent the best publicly available record of broadband provision in the United States. Despite the potential benefits offered by this database, there are several nuances to these data related to shifting geographies and reporting requirements that uncorrected, prevent them from being used as an uninterrupted time series for longitudinal analyses. Given the analytical challenges associated with the FCC Form 477 data, the purpose of this paper is to present a solution to the fragmented nature of these data which prevents meaningful longitudinal analyses of the digital divide. Specifically, this paper develops and describes a procedure for producing an integrated broadband time series (BITS) for the last decade (2008–2018). This includes the procedures for using these data, their value to social and economic analysis, and their underlying limitations. The core contribution of this paper is the creation of data infrastructure for investigating the evolution of the digital divide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0250732
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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