Internet service map data show no broadband access for up to 10% in U.S.
The Commerce Department on Thursday said five to 10 percent of Americans lack access to Internet connections fast enough to download basic Web pages and videos.
The finding comes from data used in a searchable map made public on Thursday and is the federal government's first-ever comprehensive accounting of Internet access and speed information. The Commerce Department and Federal Communications Commission also released a report that showed that Internet adoption is increasing -- at 68 percent of households -- but that low-income and minority groups are less likely to have a broadband Internet connection in their homes.
“The National Broadband Map shows there are still too many people and community institutions lacking the level of broadband service needed to fully participate in the Internet economy," said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. "We are pleased to see the increase in broadband adoption last year, particularly in light of the difficult economic environment, but a digital divide remains.”
The government map, at broadbandmap.gov, will allow the public to search what broadband providers serve their homes. The map costs $220 million over five years and is being paid for with Recovery Act broadband funds. The map will be updated every six months.
To see more, visit the National Broadband Map.
Policy makers and public interest groups want to explore how access to certain Internet speeds corresponds to household and neighborhood income levels.
Speed matters, experts say, because consumers with better Internet connections can be more efficient, productive and generally get more out the Web. The data highlights a concern that children of poor households are having to spend more time to download files and search on the Internet. Adults in those households would have more difficulty paying bills and searching for jobs on the Web -- the kinds of activities that are migrating almost entirely online.
"We saw when people moved from the dialup world to broadband, they became very different Internet users," said Lee Rainie, director of research for the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. "Broadband made the Internet more integral and directly built into people's lives."
| February 17, 2011; 12:38 PM ET
Categories: Broadband, internet
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