(USA Today) 19 million Americans still go without broadband

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Access to fast Internet is spreading in the U.S., but about 19 million Americans can't get it, according to a new government report out Tuesday....

The lack of access continues to hamper rural Americans in particular. About 14.5 million rural Americans — or 23.7% of 61 million people living in rural areas — had no fast Internet service offered for their homes. In contrast, only 1.8% Americans living in non-rural areas — 4.5 million out of 254.9 million — had no broadband access. The FCC categorizes an Internet service as "broadband" if it transmits at a speed of at least 4 megabits per second.

The report's ranking of states again underscored the correlation between broadband access and economic productivity. Economically struggling states fared worse than more thriving areas of the country. West Virginia had the least amount of access, with 45.9% of the state without broadband access. Montana (26.7%), South Dakota (21.1%) and Alaska (19.6%) followed.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government

Posted August 22, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

How will the poor souls ever survive without broadband access?

August 22, 10:18 am | [comment link]
2. AnglicanFirst wrote:

This ‘deprivation’ will probably be used as a ‘poverty indicator’ by the U.SW. Government along with not having a second car, not having a wide flat-screen-TV, not having the latest Nike sneakers, etc.

August 22, 1:11 pm | [comment link]
3. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

I really didn’t mean to be snotty, but the way this is being reported by various places, you’d think these poor people are starving to death while running from military juntas.

August 22, 1:43 pm | [comment link]
4. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

(I say as I type this using my broadband connection.)

August 22, 1:44 pm | [comment link]
5. Tomb01 wrote:

I have an idea, let’s make the government pay for the infrastructure for the entire country!  That’s the trick, that’ll fix this problem, get everybody equal, make sure everyone has access to the internet….  Should only take a few Billion a year in additional borrowing or taxes to make that happen…  After all, isn’t internet access guaranteed by the constitution?  And think of all the jobs those extra Billions in governmental income will create!

/sarc off

August 22, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
6. RalphM wrote:

The writer’s use of the word “correlation” implies a causal effect.  I think one would find that these areas were struggling economically well before the internet became pervasive. 

Communications companies build out the areas where return is greatest first.  I live in one of the country’s wealthiest counties, and it was years after the first installations in the county that I got my service.  It is the same on a macro scale.  It’s hard to justify expensive build outs when there is insufficient revenue to be gained by doing so.

August 22, 6:20 pm | [comment link]
7. RandomJoe wrote:

I foresee a need for the Rural Broadband Administration. Of course once it’s created it will never cease to exist… Just like the Rural Electrification Administration.

August 22, 11:42 pm | [comment link]
8. Teatime2 wrote:

This follows along the same line of providing simple laptops and Internet to children in rural India. It facilitates better access to education and educational resources cheaper and easier than building and staffing bricks and mortar facilities. Like it or not, the Internet is a valuable teaching and learning tool and those in rural areas, whether it be in a Third World country or here, are at a big disadvantage if they don’t have good Internet access.

I know the popular response to people not having Internet in their homes is to go to a library in the evenings for homework and research. That simply isn’t possible for the rural poor when the nearest library with broadband (and evening hours) could be 30 miles away.

If education is the great equalizer, and I’ve always believed that it is, the rural poor are slipping further behind and won’t have a fraction of the opportunities that urban and suburban dwellers have due to a lack of exposure to and mastery of technology. Rural broadband is something that could change that and it would be nice if the telecom companies would step up to the plate on this.

August 23, 4:08 am | [comment link]
9. TomRightmyer wrote:

And where it is available broadband is too expensive. Government monopoly cable companies cost too much. I pay more for internet access than I do for Medicare. Perhaps a re-elected Obama administration will socialize internet access as it has medicine.

August 23, 6:48 am | [comment link]
10. Sarah wrote:

RE: “and those in rural areas, whether it be in a Third World country or here, are at a big disadvantage if they don’t have good Internet access.”

I disagree.  I have close family members who live in a very rural setting and could easily be classified as “the rural poor” and went for most of their kids’ childhoods with little to no Internet access—certainly when they *had* it it wasn’t in any way “good.”

They did just fine.  They were home taught in a great coop and the two eldest are in college.

If people in “rural settings” are at a disadvantage, it is because of their families, not their material poverty [which I’ve seen plenty of] or a lack of good Internet access.

RE: “Rural broadband is something that could change that and it would be nice if the telecom companies would step up to the plate on this.”

Not only do I not believe that “rural broadband” would change any actual impoverishment [beyond material goods], but I have no desire for my tax dollars to be snatched by telecom companies in order to establish *further* boondoggles purporting to serve the “rural poor” [non-material impoverishment isn’t going to be remotely addressed by good Internet access—it will probably make it worse] and feed the telecom companies troughs, along with their already inflated charges for their government-provided monopoly, again larded up with my tax dollars.

If I could say anything to the Federal government it would be to please stop claiming you’re helping [xyz group]. You’re not—you’re making it grandly, preposterously worse.

August 23, 9:21 am | [comment link]
11. Teatime2 wrote:

Sarah, who said anything about tax dollars? Large corporations provide services to impoverished areas around the world as part of their charitable services, so why can’t they do the same here?

I’m happy for your family members and pray for their continued success. However, their experiences may not be the norm. As a teacher and a lifelong student, I have been both surprised and delighted by the wealth of quality information and access to scholarly data bases and libraries that the internet provides. As a disabled person now, I love the fact that I can access and read lit. crit. at the Oxford Journals online and keep my mind engaged and active.

I taught my high schoolers how to access these libraries and journals so that they could do their research projects for my classes using excellent sources and without having to drive 20 miles to the nearest library. The school had laptops to lend and some of my poorest students said they would sit outside in the school parking lot at night with their borrowed laptops so they could tap into the school’s wireless broadband. The school got the laptops, btw, through a program with Dell and a grant from AT&T provided broadband services and installation.

We also received a grant to purchase a sort of holographic machine used for distance learning, workshops, and events. It was pretty amazing. These things were installed as hubs for rural areas so that the teachers and students out in the ranch lands could participate in lectures, discussions and workshops. You could watch the presentations and they could see you, as well, so there could be discussion back and forth. Teachers could gather at our school and participate in continuing ed. workshops without having to travel to Houston, San Antonio or Dallas. The students also could participate in events going on around the state.

A university education is becoming out of reach for many qualified students. Online and distance learning is probably the wave of the future, especially for students in the rural areas. It would be great if they could further their educations while still working the ranch or farm. I think that having fast internet services may be more critical to the rural folks than it is to urban hipsters.

August 23, 2:24 pm | [comment link]
12. Tomb01 wrote:

Teatime2:  It’s great to suggest that ‘corporations’ pony up the money for this, but do you actually know what that sort of setup costs?  Ethernet cable is cheap, but internet connectivity requires good cable, not the inexpensive stuff, with regular repeaters, and we are talking hundreds of miles of infrastructure here.  Donating ‘services’ or laptops to a school is likely many orders of magnitude cheaper than something of this nature.  Besides, it is not necessary.  There are many options for rural customers NOW, they simply have to be willing to pay a little more.  Do a google search rural internet, and you will likely find multiple options of satellite based service.  The ones too rural to get cable television can certainly get a satellite service like wildblue (at mybluedish.com, $50 a month), my cousin in rural Montana had it.  And I’m sorry, but access to the internet, while a blessing and advantage, is not necessary for quality learning.

August 23, 5:01 pm | [comment link]
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