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U.S. broadband coverage (click to enlarge)  (Source: FCC)
Public sentiment is that its best to leave 80 million Americans unconnected to "high speed" broadband

While it's hard to put an exact number on how many Americans have no internet coverage, there are still some regions of the country in which less than 5 percent of the population has access to the internet.  Depending on how you define "high speed", over 80 million Americans, or about a quarter of the population, have no access to the high speed broadband that the modern web relies on so heavily.

Interestingly, a public poll from the Pew Institute indicates that the majority of Americans aren't very concerned with pushing better coverage for these individuals.  The phone survey (which would only be conducted via landline phones) asked 2,252 adults (aged 18 and older) whether expanding affordable broadband should be a top priority for the government and 53 percent of those polled responded "No".

In total, 26 percent said the government should play no part in pushing out high-speed internet; 27 percent indicated they didn't care if it did, but that it was "not too important"; 30 percent said it was important, and 11 percent said it should be a 
top priority. 

The poll, which can be found here, also offered other interesting results -- for example, growth in internet use among African Americans is outpacing that of white Americans.

Aaron Smith, author of the Pew Internet Project's report, comments, "A debate has arisen about the role of government in stepping in to ensure availability to high-speed Internet access for all Americans.  The majority think not, and the surprise is that non-users are the least inclined to think government has a role in the spread of broadband."

The Federal Communications Commission -- led by appointees of U.S. President Barack Obama -- has made it clear that it thinks that broadband access 
should be a top priority.  It's in the process of deploying a scheme to offer high-speed 100 Mbps internet to 100M U.S. homes and to extend cable coverage to areas that currently cost to much to deploy to (according to the telecommunication companies).

If the recent poll is any indication, the FCC's plan may prove unpopular. 

The debate over internet coverage isn't just a U.S. one, though.  Internationally, the level of coverage, freedom of information, and net neutrality are hotly debated issues.  Finland recently propelled the debate to the forefront when it legislated broadband internet as an essential human right.



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RE: I don't get it...
By mcnabney on 8/12/2010 1:57:41 PM , Rating: 5
Please Google the Rural Electrification Act.

The reasoning behind this is that electrification drove the 20th century forward and the government believed that it was in the country's best interest to push power to everyone. The same is being considered for effective connectivity. Doing business offline, especially in more remote areas, is increasingly difficult. Newspapers are disappearing. Rural areas are already isolated from free TV in many areas.


RE: I don't get it...
By AEvangel on 8/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: I don't get it...
By eskimospy on 8/12/2010 2:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
Please provide objective sources that back up their claims which state the REA was a mistake to create.

I have seen arguments for the discontinuation of the REA in the 1990's (and that's what happened), but I have never seen a non-ideological case for the REA being a failure either on the whole or as implemented by FDR.


RE: I don't get it...
By tastyratz on 8/12/2010 4:20:49 PM , Rating: 1
I think the REA was great. We need internet access in some usable form in all areas of the country just as we need electricity. The problem is that the uneducated public could easily be swayed through presentation of this poll, especially could be based on location of residence.

Nobody considers the business requirements these days for online connectivity, and most people don't know just how neglected us coverage is compared to other countries. People take for granted their internet connections and the ones who don't? aren't online to bitch about it.

This poll just in! 92% of individuals in somalia believe food and water delivery should be top priority with the government. Individuals in california posted drastically different numbers. Researchers are still stumped.


RE: I don't get it...
By rcc on 8/13/2010 1:03:40 PM , Rating: 2
Don't be silly. Go run your poll in Hollywood. 92% of the population there probably agree that food and water in Somalia is a top priority. Even over correcting the problems we already have locally.

After all, it's all about image you know.


RE: I don't get it...
By tastyratz on 8/13/2010 1:51:35 PM , Rating: 3
thats just because in hollywood nobody eats. I just want to start whipping hamburgers every time a model yawns and hope for a direct hit before their ribcage tans like tiger stripes from the shadows in the depth.


RE: I don't get it...
By Ammohunt on 8/12/2010 2:22:37 PM , Rating: 2
hmm sounds alot like the stimulus creating or saving millions of governemnt jobs.


RE: I don't get it...
By HighWing on 8/12/2010 3:41:35 PM , Rating: 1
I would just like to point out that I know for a fact there "IS" a demand in many areas that do not have high-speed internet access, and there "IS" a profit to be made beyond one or two households. The problem is that there is usually stretch of no-profit zone that cable needs to be laid to reach those profit areas. Thus rising the cost of reaching certain areas.


RE: I don't get it...
By JediJeb on 8/12/2010 4:09:48 PM , Rating: 5
My parents live in a rural area of Ky, and they will soon have high speed internet there supplied by a local independent telephone company. This company has already laid fiber to most of the small towns in the area and is now running fiber out to the rest of its customers. If some small local phone company can do this without some government program, they why can't a big company like AT&T do it? This company is privately owned and has been for years. It supplied the rural areas there with phone service even before Bell came into the area to serve the larger towns back in the early 50s.

We don't need a government program to get high speed internet out to the rural areas, we just need to get the big companies like AT&T out of the way. The market is there, and in this case the company saw a way to make a profit from it and went for it.


RE: I don't get it...
By Lerianis on 8/13/2010 11:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. With the MASSIVE PROFITS that AT&T, Verizon, etc. post, they should be able to do 'last mile' stuff pretty damned much everywhere.

The only reason they moan and bitch about not being able to do it is because they are GREEDY to the extreme, and don't want to put out any money to improve their networks.


RE: I don't get it...
By HoosierEngineer5 on 8/14/2010 8:02:45 PM , Rating: 1
The real question remains - who 'owns' the last mile? If you pay for a gallon of milk, you own it. If you pay monthly charges for an Internet connection, why don't you own it?


RE: I don't get it...
By raumkrieger on 8/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: I don't get it...
By rcc on 8/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: I don't get it...
By knutjb on 8/12/2010 3:59:11 PM , Rating: 1
False analogy. I have a friend who works for a rural provider and they are running fiber out to the middle of nowhere because of market demands. In cases where a provider can't reasonably supply it they should go satellite.

In this case the government needs to stay out. They are pushing internet for all, to keep from oppressing those who are isolated because internet is a right, sniffle sniffle. They do so regardless that those who live in rural communities choose to live there.

While they are pushing the emotional need for a simple service, not a right, they are slipping in massive controls over the internet. That is something completely different designed to garner power and control.
quote:
Newspapers are disappearing. Rural areas are already isolated from free TV in many areas.
So, it still does not justify for me to pay excessive tax increases to run fiber when satellite is available for internet, phone, and TV at competitive rates.


RE: I don't get it...
By spamreader1 on 8/12/2010 4:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
Inexpensive broadband is one the problem for rural areas.

Example

Satelite internet is avialble damn near everywhere in the lower 48 stats. $99-$600 component and installation fees (depending on current promotions) with a 2 year contract of $79/mo. Many of these dish contracts however don't let you know upfront that if you go over your daily cap of ~100MB you will be throttled from 1.5mbps to 28kbps and in some cases charged additional fees.

I've met several people who consitantly have $300+ internet fees monthly. So it is readily available however not economically feasable. All that would need to be done is regulate the fees charged by rural high speed carriers. (cellular access is also often an available method,

I personnaly use an att aircard and just pay the $69.95/mo +$.05/MB fee over 5GB for ~$100-$200/mo internet access. I'm not 100% convinced it should be controlled by the government but I am not against pricing regulation.


RE: I don't get it...
By darkblade33 on 8/12/2010 4:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah you're right !

And the people who are online in these polls telling the govt not to worry ? Well sh*t they already have internet access! I guess they don't care about anyone else.


RE: I don't get it...
By darkblade33 on 8/12/2010 4:19:05 PM , Rating: 1
And further more, if they had spoken to people like my father who have no high speed access they would've gotten different answers. Problem is alot of these folks are in fact on 'calling list' because they are in big cities and/or have put themselves on these list via the internet marketing companies, and thus have high speed. SELFISH


RE: I don't get it...
By knutjb on 8/12/2010 4:32:02 PM , Rating: 3
And you live where... I know a number of people who live out in the middle of nowhere for a reason, nope getting the internet isn't one of them. For most they don't like, want or desire many of the "conveniences" that you deem mandatory.

So is it the selfish preventing them from getting it or is it elitist telling them they have to have it.


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