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Posted at 12:38 PM ET, 02/17/2011

Internet service map data show no broadband access for up to 10% in U.S.

By Cecilia Kang

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.

Here's a preview:
bband.jpg

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."

By Cecilia Kang  | February 17, 2011; 12:38 PM ET
Categories:  Broadband, internet  
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Comments

"The map costs $220 million over five years and is being paid for with Recovery Act broadband funds."

WTF! 220 million for a MAP?!! Who is paying for that?? Oh wait, me the taxpayer. This entire effort is one more thing the government has NO BUSINESS getting into.

Posted by: AsadChaudry | February 17, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

More fleecing of America. Shouldn't cost more than $20 million! And you think the gov't can bring heathcare costs down?!? HA!

Posted by: siroiv | February 17, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"The map costs $220 million over five years and is being paid for with Recovery Act broadband funds."

Who is paying for that?? Oh wait, me the taxpayer.

Posted by: AsadChaudry

*****

At 138 million US taxpayers, that's about 32 cents a year over for five years.

What were you saving for, some cheese to go with that whine?

Posted by: byoolin1 | February 17, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"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."

What a patently ridiculous statement! Poor people DON'T cut down on things like the internet, TV, and alcohol and drug usage, even though it would seem logical that they would do so. Making bad economic decisions is one reason why they are poor in the first place.

Why do you think that so many of the online scam colleges and tech schools target cable tv stations? It's not because the poor have cut back on their bills by going to basic or no cable.

The far more likely usage of faster internet speeds would be porn, gambling, and sports than anything related to the kids' school work. It doesn't take high broadband to get the definiton of a word, or to see a world map.

This is nothing but an effort by the government and the cable companies to hang on to the Universal Service Fee that you see every month in your phone bill. It started out as a subsidy for rural phone carriers, but of course there is no longer any need for that. Rather than return the money to you and me, a new usage for it must be found. The idea of simply ending a program that has outlived it's usefulness is loathesome to those involved!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 17, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: johnmarshall5446

"It started out as a subsidy for rural phone carriers, but of course there is no longer any need for that."

wow! Just wow! Do you really think that telephone equipment lasts forever and needs no maintenance? This rural equipment is STILL not being paid for by its customer.

Hey guess what the point of communications is not to make money for the carriers. The point of communications is to enable consumers and producers to connect and enable our strong economy. It is well worth it for our government to invest in this infrastructure, so critical to our jobs and corporations.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 17, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

AT&T's ad says they cover 97% of all Americans. Do they lie?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 17, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The 10% must be Comcast customers.... :(

Posted by: lingering_lead | February 17, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

frantaylor wrote:

"Hey guess what the point of communications is not to make money for the carriers. The point of communications is to enable consumers and producers to connect and enable our strong economy:

Ummm, no, no it isn't! That argument was settled many years ago when AT&T was broken up. Were it not for the profit motive, we would be even farther behind some countries in cell coverage and bandwith than we already are. Had AT&T stayed intact, you would still be carrying around a brick sized cell phone.

Relatively speaking internet is cheap. Consumers make all kinds of decisions with their feet, the poor just like anybody else. Once it made great sense to move to Detroit. Now it makes great sense to move out.

Stop trying to fix every single problem with other people's money. This isn't food, health care or electricity we're talking about. No one is going to die or be made sick because they have slow internet.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 17, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

"Speed matters, experts say, because consumers with better Internet connections can be more efficient, productive and generally get more out the Web."

Will someone explain to me what it means for a CONSUMER to be more "productive" because they have broadband? It's BS statements from unnamed experts that are featured, without challenge, far too often in the press.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | February 17, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Actually 99% of the U.S. is wired with copper cable, a low bandwidth technology that was widely abandoned by industry in the mid-1980s in favor of fiber-optic cable. I know because I installed many miles of it. The fact is today Singapore and other countries are far ahead of the U.S. in terms of high-bandwidth infrastructure.

Posted by: jdwil | February 17, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

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