Research firm NPD has published its latest ‘Rural America and Technology’ study, which has a surprising finding: 31% of US households still don’t have a broadband internet connection.

“The number works out to roughly 100 million,” reported TechCrunch (we think that’s people, not households), adding that in rural areas, less than one fifth of the population has a broadband connection. There’s relevance to music here: we tend to think of the US as one of the most mature markets for music-streaming, yet even here, there’s a big chunk of the population who have a significant barrier to enjoying services like Apple Music and Spotify.

As the report points out, the rollout of 5G mobile networks *could* be a big change – and one that could spur a new wave of signups to streaming services in the coming years. This could be particularly important for country music, which has plenty of fans in those rural areas.

In Music Ally’s report on country and streaming last September, the issue of broadband penetration came up. “When you’re in Wyoming or Colorado or parts of Texas and Iowa, you’re in these areas where many of their citizens would consider themselves country fans; but if they can’t get reliable broadband – good, solid connections – streaming is not going to be their choice!” said Sony/ATV’s Troy Tomlinson then.

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