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The Obama administration is looking for new ways to bring access to the digital divide

It's hard to imagine any American without an Internet connection when people are often seen with their faces buried in smartphones, tablets and laptops. PCs and mobile devices have certainly become ubiquitous over the years, but for different reasons, not everyone is connected.

According to The New York Times, around 20 percent of American adults who do not have Internet connectivity in any way, whether it's at home, work, school or by a mobile device. 

A report titled "Exploring the Digital Nation," which was conducted by the Commerce Department and is based in 2011 data, shows the differences in Internet adoption rates throughout the U.S. based on parameters such as age, race, location, education and income. 

The report stated that only slightly more than half of Americans ages 65 and older use the Internet. Conversely, about 75 percent of those under 65 use the Internet. 

As far as race goes, 76 percent of white American households have Internet connectivity compared to 57 percent of African-American households. 

Internet use is lowest in the South, where Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas are the least connected.

Finally, the report shows that Internet use is more prevalent in households with an income of more than $50,000 a year and some college education. 

The NYT article states that many Americans are lost in the digital gap for several reasons, including high costs of broadband services, a lack of computer skills and disinterest in technology in general. 

The Obama administration worries that many Americans are being shut out of jobs, health care and education because of their lack of computer skills. Many job applications, health care applications and school work must be completed on computers, and the administration is looking to close that gap.

In 2009, President Barack Obama launched a $7 billion effort to expand broadband access to all Americans who lacked Internet connectivity. So far, it has proved pretty effective: about 50 percent of those infrastructure programs have been completed, and Internet availability has grown from 90 percent before the program to 98 percent today. 

Also, about $500 million of that $7 billion went toward helping people learn to use the Internet. It has brought half a million new household subscribers to Internet service.

While this has helped, the report claims that there needs to be more programs available for those who can't afford Internet service. Some already exist, such as Internet Essentials program, which offers broadband service for $10 a month to low-income families. It has been pretty effective with 220,000 households out of 2.6 million eligible homes in Comcast service areas signing up.

In 2011, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates partnered with former U.S. President Bill Clinton to bring Internet access to the digital divide. 

However, administration officials feel more progress could be made. 

Source: The New York Times

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RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Motoman on 8/20/2013 7:37:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not really.

When I'm talking about "capped" above, it's something like a max of 10Gb per month for cellular wifi. Maybe 40Gb on satellite...which as noted is utterly useless to you if you play video games anyway.

The broadband "caps" that get bandied about are frequently not hard & fast like cellular/satellite...and generally start at about 200Gb per month anyway. Which for the *vast* majority of all users is essentially uncapped. I'd guess something like 97.9%, +/- 2%, of all DSL/cable/fiber optic customers have all the bandwidth they could possibly want.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By PrinceGaz on 8/21/2013 8:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
Most people aren't interested in playing online games and couldn't care less about not being able to do so on a satellite internet connection.

I certainly couldn't survive with just 40Gb (never mind just 10Gb) of data per month though; a single DVD-5 movie and that's the whole month gone! An average of a gigabyte per day is more in line with my typical usage, and I don't download all that much content, so I'd need a cap of no less than 30GB per month (and preferably more like 100GB so that I never have to bother about it).

By spamreader1 on 8/21/2013 10:02:15 AM , Rating: 2
Not just games though. I'm one of those with cellular, not too long ago it was a 5GB cap and $.05/MB, yes that per MB. I would often have a $250-300 internet bill. Now it is more reasonable, at $10/GB over the 5GB, but ATT will still send you nasty grams and threaten to cut your access.

My wife goes on facebook once or twice a day, I browse a few low bandwidth sites at home ( <5MB ) plus both of us accessing email, looking random things up on bing/wiki, and my kids might get 1 day a week to play something called webkins (about ~100MB/week). We have strict rules to limit websites that have any form of streaming video and still our usage averages between 6-8GB a month. And by any form of streaming video I mean even isn't allowed due to thier streaming ads.

I have to remote into work when I'm on call periodically, which might use ~100MB-150MB a week in bandwidth. Because of this requirment to use RDP over vpn, I have to have something with decent response time. Satalite has a given ~700ms response time due to the signal having to travel so far (LEO and back) Where 3g had response times of in the 50ms range, and my current LTE connecting gets closer to 30ms.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Dorkyman on 8/21/2013 9:17:50 AM , Rating: 2
So satellite doesn't count because you can't play games on it?

I guess that would matter to a few people. For the rest of us it would make no difference. We use the Internet to be, you know, productive.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Motoman on 8/21/2013 11:44:03 AM , Rating: 2
Uh-huh. So you don't download anything? Don't stream anything? Don't do anything online other than check your email and poke people on Facebook?

If so, then great. But the reality is that satellite (and cellular wifi) really prevent you from participating in the modern online world.

By brasstax on 8/22/2013 12:34:26 AM , Rating: 2
There is nothing intrinsic about satellite's current bandwidth cap, it's simply a matter of cost. There is, however, an intrinsic latency added due to our current understanding of physics, though I suppose a LEO network like Iridium sat phones use could reduce this limitation (though cost there is pun intended).

That said, there is currently little that relies on low latency access, with day trading, gaming and VoIP being the exceptions that come to mind. Given that at least 2 of these could probably be considered vices, I certainly hope the government is not concerned with them.

As cloud computing grows, however, I suspect latency will become increasingly important.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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