National Broadband Map Unveiled

  • Broadband Competition
  • Broadband Penetration
  • Broadband Stimulus
WASHINGTON – The National Broadband Map -- the first public, searchable nationwide map of broadband Internet availability -- was unveiled today by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Prepared in response to a Congressional mandate and funded by broadband stimulus funds, the map is designed to support efforts to expand broadband access and adoption and to help businesses and consumers find high-speed Internet options. The NTIA says the map data can help providers assess new business opportunities and economic developers work to attract businesses to their communities or overcome barriers to investment.

According to the map, between 5 and 10 percent of Americans still lack access to the 4 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream broadband speeds that the FCC regards as necessary to support basic applications. Lawrence Strickling, NTIA administrator and assistant secretary for communications and information, said “there are still too many people and community institutions lacking the level of broadband service needed to fully participate in the Internet economy." Strickling said the Obama Administration would work to overcome this digital divide by means of the map and other initiatives.

National Broadband Map
The National Broadband Map, available at , is an unprecedented searchable database of information about high-speed Internet access. NTIA created the map in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), using data that the states collected from broadband providers or other data sources.

The website includes more than 25 million searchable records showing where broadband Internet service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the service and the names of the service providers. Users can search by address to find the broadband providers and services available in the corresponding census block or road segment, view the data on a map, or use other interactive tools to compare broadband across various geographies, such as states, counties or congressional districts.

The map will be updated every six months based on input from grantees. Using crowdsourcing tools, the public can help improve accuracy by providing feedback on the data. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “This cutting-edge tool will continue to evolve with the help of new data and user feedback." (Let's hope so - the information given for this reporter's home address was entirely incorrect.)

Other Key Findings
Community anchor institutions are largely underserved. For example, based on studies by state education technology directors, most schools need a connection of 50 to 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. The data show that two-thirds of surveyed schools subscribe to speeds lower than 25 Mbps, however. In addition, only 4 percent of libraries reported subscribing to speeds greater than 25 Mbps.

Advanced wireless Internet is becoming more available. Approximately 36 percent of Americans have access to wireless (fixed, mobile, licensed, and unlicensed) Internet service at maximum advertised download speeds of 6 Mbps or greater, which some consider the minimum speed associated with 4G wireless broadband service. Ninety-five percent of Americans have access to wireless Internet service speeds of at least 768 kbps, which corresponds roughly to 3G wireless service.

Broadband Adoption Data
NTIA today also released a new report previewing data collected through the Internet Usage Survey of 54,000 households, commissioned by NTIA and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 2010. The Current Population Survey (CPS) data show that although virtually all demographic groups have experienced rising broadband Internet access adoption at home, historic demographic disparities among groups have persisted over time.

Highlights of the February 2011 Digital Nation report include:

· Broadband Internet access at home continues to grow: 68 percent of households have broadband access, as compared with 63.5 percent last year. (In the survey, broadband was defined as Internet access service that uses DSL, cable modem, fiber optics, mobile broadband, and other high-speed Internet access services.)

· Notable disparities between demographic groups continue: People with low incomes, disabilities, seniors, minorities, the less-educated, non-family households, and the non-employed tend to lag behind other groups in home broadband use.

· While the digital divide between urban and rural areas has lessened since 2007, it remains significant. In 2010, 70 percent of urban households and only 60 percent of rural households accessed broadband Internet service. (Last year, those figures were 66 percent and 54 percent, respectively.)

· Overall, the two most commonly cited main reasons for not having broadband Internet access at home are that it is perceived as not needed (46 percent) or too expensive (25 percent). In rural America, however, lack of broadband availability is a larger reason for nonadoption than in urban areas (9.4 percent vs. 1 percent). Americans also cite the lack of a computer as a factor.

· Despite the growing importance of the Internet in American life, 28.3 percent of all persons do not use the Internet in any location, down from 31.6 percent last year.


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