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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 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.


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