Tag Archives: abroadband

The Digital Divide

About 100 million Americans are not connected to the Internet, and an additional 19 million who use the Internet are not connected to broadband.

This situation has prompted President Obama to create a new program for making broadband Internet service more accessible. The White House said, in part:

“Connecting the middle class to the benefits of the digital age is a critical piece of the President’s economic plan.”

Typical of a politician’s approach to problem solving, the White House apparently ignores the element of cost.

28% of those not connected say it is because of cost—the remainder says they “just aren’t interested.” Well, maybe they just aren’t interested in spending $50 per month on something they think they can live without.

Consider this:

Historical communications

The U.S.—birthplace of the Internet—provides poorer quality and more costly Internet service than most of the other Western nations.

In my area, 12 Mbps of broadband service alone costs over $50 per month—while residents in Hong Kong can get 500Mbps fiber service for $25 per month.

Moreover, the cost of broadband service continually increases—rather than becoming more affordable—thus further enlarging the “digital divide.”

In the U.S., the quality and cost of broadband service is such that the one-third of the population not connected to broadband today simply will not, or cannot afford to, subscribe to broadband.

A further divide of the haves and have-nots.

The problem is even greater in rural communities where most of their services are already in a budget crisis. Schools and libraries simply do not have the money available to connect to broadband.

For example, Massachusetts initiated a program to expand broadband service across the state … yet, a Library in a typical small town in Colrain, Mass. has fiber service running right past their door, but they are not connected to it because they simply cannot afford the $100 per month connection cost.

This situation is played out all across America.

Until the U.S. is able to provide low cost broadband service to broader areas, I’m afraid the current statistics for people disconnected from the Internet are just not going to get much better.

What do you think: is the cost, and poor quality, of broadband service in the U.S. too expensive for many people?

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