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The Internet Networking United States Technology

19 Million Americans Cannot Get Broadband Access 279

First time accepted submitter paullopez writes "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced during its eighth annual broadband progress report on the state of broadband/Internet access in America, that 19 million Americans still do not have access to high-speed broadband above the 3Mbps threshold. However, the report also detailed the advances the progress that is being made, including 'LTE deployment by mobile networks.'" Also at SlashCloud.
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19 Million Americans Cannot Get Broadband Access

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  • LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:06AM (#41093069)
    LTE isn't exactly what most would consider "broadband" due to the incredibly low caps and high price. If you only get 5 GB per month (or less) you aren't going to be using it for streaming movies or anything.
    • Re:LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:16AM (#41093147) Journal

      But it is a relatively cheap way to 'fulfill' any rural telco obligations you happened to pick up from the FCC in exchange for lucrative spectrum concessions or whatever else it is you actually wanted...

      • Re:LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @12:24PM (#41097169)

        19 million w/o broadband. That's fewer than the "50 million without healthcare" the Democrats were quoting during the Obamacare debates. Do we really think that broadband is more important initiative than people having health insurance/coverage?

        ALSO: I find it odd the FCC defines broadband as 3 Mbit/s. That means I don't have broadband in my home even though what I do have (1 Mbit/s) is enough to watch videos on the internet. Hmmm. I consider it broadband (100 megahertz wide)..... certainly better than the narrowband (3 megahertz-wide) dialup I used to have.

        And finally a lot of those 19 million live in remote areas like Wyoming, Idaho, Dakota, Arizona. They *choose* to live far away from conveniences. Not only do these 19 million lack broadband but also public water & sewer. Many can't even get TV reception since they are so far out. This is a LIFESTYLE CHOICE and we should respect it, rather than demand conformity. (And if these people don't like living in isolation, they can move closer to the nearest city.)

    • by takshaka ( 15297 )

      I wish I could get LTE. The best I can do is 3G, even though I am 200 yards from houses with cable.

      Even so, 3G is a great improvement over dialup.

      • Re:LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:45AM (#41093465)

        Why not just run cable the 200 yards?

        You can rent a ditchwitch and have it done in short order.

        • Two issues spring to mind

          1: he probablly doesn't own all the land between his property and the nearest property
          2: if the cableco won't serve his property over something as minor as 200 yards do you think they will really hook up his own cable to theirs and provide him with service? I very much doubt it.

          So the only way I could see this working is if he knows the owners of a property who can get cable well enough to have them buy service on his behalf and either can persude the owners of the intervening land

      • Re:LTE (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:52AM (#41093533) Homepage

        Lol, how can you suck that bad in America? Here in Iceland we're approaching 80% of the population with 50-100mb *fiber*, despite having 1/10th the population density as the US. Even the capitol region's population density is only about the average population density of America, and that's only about 70% of the population; the largest city outside the capitol region is six hours drive away and has only 17k people. They're currently stringing connections in Vestfirðir, a large, sparsely populated, mountainous region where the largest "city" is just over 3k people. This here is all just counting fiber connections, let alone DSL. And people generally get excellent net service through their cell phones as well (2g map [], 3g map [] for one provider). I've used Facebook on hikes, from the top of mountains before. And it's all cheap, too.

        What's up with that, America? Why do you neglect your infrastructure like that? Here we've got multi-kilometer mountain tunnels leading to towns of around 1000 people, and you can't even make it possible for 6% of your population to have 3Mbps *dsl*? Over your existing phone lines?

        • Re:LTE (Score:4, Informative)

          by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:57AM (#41093591)

          The USAs population density is highly misleading on one hand.

          I have lived in places with my nearest neighbor sharing a wall at one extreme, and in another location where the nearest neighbor was 3 miles away.

          On the other the USAs phone lines are also crap. Very few here want to pay the taxes or any other of that "evil socialist" stuff like that required to have modern infrastructure.

          • Re:LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @09:54AM (#41094499)

            It's not only the density issue, but the lack of competition. The government is fully to blame here. They gave monopolies to a single provider for various counties, and now those same companies have little reason to improve service. I've lived in a major metropolitan area for 20+ years. Initially I had a simple modem connection, did a small stint with an ISDN line, and then went to cable right around 2000. At that time, it was a 7Mb/s line. 12 years later, it is still the basic offering with incremental improvement on uplink speed and down speed (10 mb/s down and 128 up), or a hefty price increase to get the 'new' 20 Mb/s speed.

            The US has fallen so far behind other developed countries due to the lack of competition it's just not funny anymore. Even the density problem would be resolved with more competition. By it's very nature, more competition brings advances far faster, cheaper production of the necessary materials, and a general lowering trend in price. We see this in almost every electronics industry, but in telecom, the price remains static, or has exploded instead with little actual improvement offered.

            Look to any overseas country to see what true competition produces.

          • Re:LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @10:00AM (#41094619)

            We were also early adopters and one of the first to really connect people in our country with electricity and phone lines. Also we weren't bombed out twice last century and as such we have a lot of legacy infrastructure at this point. My grandmother didn't have a private line until the early 1990's. It was still party lines and rotary phones in that part of the country.

            • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )
              So you are saying that we need a good bombing so we can get new infrastructure? Kind of like burning down the house so you can collect the insurance and build a new one?
          • Re:LTE (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @10:26AM (#41095139)

            The tired "population density" argument always comes up, and can be easily invalidated. If it was just population density, New Jersey would be a Mecca of ultra-high-speed Internet.

            The USA's lack of broadband penetration compared to Europe and east Asia has very little to do with population density.

        • Re:LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

          by HaZardman27 ( 1521119 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @09:13AM (#41093785)
          Perhaps it has something to do with Iceland's ~100km^2 land area as opposed to the US's ~10m km^2 land area...
          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            Land area does not matter one bit. Population density is it. You could have a country like Canada 9m km^2 and since the people are all basically in a 20 mile strip along the US border providing them with internet service is not as much of an issue.

            • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

              100 mile strip I mean. Either way it means the vast majority of the population is in a small area.

              • Well, then the US is covered.

                19M people is less than 10% of the nation.

                • It's actually 5.9. This is a non-story unless people want to talk about LTE with data caps being counted as "broadband" in the same sense as traditional DSL and cable. Now that's a spin worth wringing one's hands over.
                • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

                  Way to miss the point.

                  I did not say that did it, I said that meant it was feasible. The fact that we failed to do so only speaks to our own failures.

                  • by Targon ( 17348 )

                    There IS a basic concept that people who intentionally live in remote areas also ACCEPT the lack of services that living in a more populated area would provide. If you WANT to live deep in the woods, then you have to be willing to spend the money to install and maintain your own fiber optic lines from an area that has a connection, or not complain because YOU willingly are living that far away from where services are offered. In the same way that people in rural areas do not want their tax money going

        • Re:LTE (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Troyusrex ( 2446430 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @09:42AM (#41094259)
          Had you followed the links you would have seen that the US has "networks technically capable of 100 megabit-plus speeds to over 80 percent of the population through cable’s DOCSIS 3.0 rollout" which exactly matches your claims of what Iceland has. A surprising amount of those without broadband access are on tribal lands which are governed by different laws.

          Not to say that the US couldn't do better on this front but the idea that Iceland is wonderful and the US "Suck(s) that bad" is hyperbole and ignores the facts.

        • Just to point out, US of A has a population of 311 million. 19 million is about 6% of that. Which means 94% of US population does have access to broadband. Seems like that would have been some useful math for you to do prior to touting your country's amazing 80%. Though I do agree that 80% coverage in Iceland is not too shabby.
        • You need to fly into Kansas City, rent a car and then drive to Denver sometime. It would give you a clearer perspective on just how much bigger things can be over here.

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            You need to fly to Keflavík, rent a car, and drive to Borgarfjörður Eystri some time (almost as far). It's not size, its' population density. More people = more resources to allocate to something. In fact, generally the benefit is *more* than linear; doing projects on a large scale is generally easier per-capita than on the small scale. And you really want to compare "ease of construction" across flat farmland to construction going past Eyjafjallajökull, Katla, and Vatnajökull,

        • by Targon ( 17348 )

          Have you looked at the size difference between Iceland and the USA? Averages are very misleading as well, because if 99 percent of the population lives in a city but that city only covers 1 percent of the size of the country, and broadband coverage is limited to the city, then you can say that while 99 percent of the population gets broadband, you can also say that 99 percent of the COUNTRY does not.

          In the USA, there are large areas of low population density, where it would cost more to provide the servi

        • by ukemike ( 956477 )
          Maybe you aren't considering that Iceland is about the size of Arizona...
          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            It's not that big. About the size of Kentucky. But - key distinction - about 7-8 % of the population of Kentucky, with a crazy twisty unstable volcanic glaciated landscape, located in the middle of the North Atlantic.

            The larger the project is, the easier it is per-capita. And unlike us, you don't have to ship in all your hardware and cabling and fund the laying of trans-atlantic data cables with the resources of a population smaller than the city of Santa Ana, California.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          Iceland: 39,770 square miles
          Illinois: 57,914 square miles
          USA: 3,794,101 square miles

          Iceland: population 320,060
          Illinois: 12,869,257
          USA: population 314,215,000

          A single one of the fifty states (a middle sized state) has more land mass than Iceland, but far fewer people. It's a hell of a lot easier to get broadband in a high density population than out in the boondocks. When you see the scale of the size of the US you can see why it's not as easy here as it is there.

        • >>>Lol, how can you suck that bad in America? Here in Iceland we're approaching 80% of the population with 50-100mb *fiber*, despite having 1/10th the population density as the US.

          How can you suck so bad in EUROPE? Over in Greece my relatives can't get anything faster than ISDN (128k). I hear it's just as bad in rural parts of Portugal, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Ireland, etc. I have fiber in my American neighborhood, but these poor europeans can't get better than a few kilobits.

          Sad. (I'm making a

    • Re:LTE (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:44AM (#41093457)

      Absolutely. They should (also) be reporting on the number of Americans without access to affordable high speed access. And breaking down what all of the caps are both wireless caps and also caps that have been imposed on previously uncapped "land line" services. It is absurd how, while other countries continue to move forward, the US grants monopolies or near monopolies to Internet providers yet lets them chip away at the "service" imposing restrictions designed only to aid their business model and keep them from building out their equipment.

      I was also surprised to see the standard stated as above 3Mbs. By that standard I don't even have the Internet, nor do some of my friends who live in very well served cities (although we might both be considered to have access to LTE). Actually AT&T does offer me a higher priced 6Mbs service where I live, but I stopped buying that when it was determined that they were not really providing more than I am getting with the 3Mbs service and they just laughed and said the service never promised 6Mps, only "up to" 6Mbs.

    • LTE is not a high speed internet connection. not in any way that truly matters. Not while the standard cap is 1-2GB/month. yes you can buy more, have you seen the price on that? 5GB/month (which is still an absurdly low cap) contracts end up about the same as my CAR payment, several times higher than my landline internet.

      LTE is a top fuel dragster. it's really impressive for a quarter mile. then you have to take it apart and rebuild it for a month.

      "look how fast I can download over my phone!"
      "yeah. that's g

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        1. T-mobile is again offering unlimited, not sure how far there LTE rollout is.

        2. same as car payment is very vague. Mine is 0, and has never been higher. So all my internet service bills exceed that. I know that a car payment on some cars exceeds $1000/month.

        3. Some of us still have unlimited plans, and it looks like they might be coming back based on what sprint and tmobile are doing.

    • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )
      However, you can use it to surf the internet and get email. Just because it isn't the right plan for you doesn't mean it isn't a good option for rural people with no access to cable.
  • by Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:12AM (#41093115) Homepage Journal

    Especially the rural area are a bit difficult to service (yes I read part of the article). On the other hand: people that choose to live there, do they nééd fixed-line access?

    • I cannot get the speeds now defined as broadband where I live. The fastest thing I can buy is 2Mbps for over $100/mo. For $50/mo I get 768k bursting to 1.5Mbps delivered from the top of my local volcano and bounced in from four mountaintops away. AT&T owns literally every fiber link into my county. It's cheaper for them to do this than to buy it from the one AT&T reseller who operates here, or god forbid, directly from AT&T. And the line going up the volcano used to fail all the time, in spite o

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      and add to the fact that the small towns hate big companies and make them fund yarn museums for the privilege of running their lines

    • On the other hand: people that choose to live there, do they nééd fixed-line access?

      Except we didn't have this attitude toward electricity and telephone. We made sure that everyone was brought up to par with everyone else in rural areas.

      I'm sorry to see that we have this attitude toward Internet connections now. What has happened since the Rural Electrification Act that we find it acceptable to say "they chose to live there, therefore should go without"?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        A massive political shift to the right is what happened.
        Just 20 some years ago conservatives were the ones who were pushing for everyone to be required to be insured for their health as they were for their cars. Today that is seen as almost socialism.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:14AM (#41093131) Journal

    Can we stop fretting about the fact that there isn't a hard link run to every last spot in the boonies and start fretting about why access is so damn slow, and so damn expensive, even in the parts of the US where the economics of deployment are most favorable?

    • While people are "happy" to pay high prices for capped and low speed / unreliable services there is no incentive for the internet providers to spend vast amounts upgrading the infrastructure.

      You either need a government backed incentive to roll out high speed internet country wide (meaning to everyone not just people in cities) or you need some foreign companies to start moving into the US market to introduce some competition that will force the existing companies to become more competitive in the price
  • Sounds good, since until 3 years ago when I lived in NYC, you could not get over 3Mbps almost anywhere in the city (I had asked for a house in Queens, a house in Brooklyn and two office locations in Manhattan one in Chelsea and one in Upper West side).
    Unless nothing has changed and they consider TWC's 5Mbit to be "over 3Mbps". I had tried that service and due to the fact that the upstream was 384Kbps it was actually slower than Verizon's 3/768 even when downloading. Also a bit before I left, Speakeasy was o

  • The politicians are working hard to ensure we all get our much-needed soma... I mean, broadband access.

  • by pcjunky ( 517872 ) <> on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:42AM (#41093423) Homepage

    Small WISPs do more to service rural areas than all the big cellular carriers combined. If the FCC wants these folks to have access to high speed Internet then quit selling all the spectrum to the highest bidder and make some of that "white Space" spectrum free and un-licensed.

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:42AM (#41093427) Homepage Journal

    Are we seriously calling anything under three megabit unacceptable?

    The 19 million people mentioned in the above write-up are not without any means of Internet access, they are without Internet access in excess of 3 megabits - they could have 2 or 2.5 megabit access and fall into the 19 million Americans the article discusses.

    What would the number be if we ratcheted back the cutoff from the three megabits in the report to say one megabit? How about if we made it 768K?

    There are honestly tens of millions of Americans that care very little about either Internet access generally or high-speed Internet access specifically.

    • Re:Thee Megabit? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @09:03AM (#41093649)

      Not too long ago, there was talk about providing high speed internet to every household through the power grid. Even several test cities tried it with very good results. However, the major telecommunication companies lobbied to kill it. Go figure.

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )
      I don't think that it's a matter of less-than-3mbps being unacceptable, just deficient. Like it or not, access to a high-speed connection to the larger world, for each home and community that wants it, is a requisite for economic development, just like telegraph and railroad access was in the late-19th century, and electricity and telephony was by the mid-20th century. Just having an internet connection is not sufficient; having a connection that can support bi-directional streaming video is what one shou
    • kenh, what is your current speed?
      I would NOT consider 768K, high speed. I wouldn't even consider 3mbit fast. Maybe, if you are going from dial-up to 3Mbit that would be a jump, but if I dropped from my 50Mbit down to even 10Mbit, I would die.
    • Are we seriously calling anything under three megabit unacceptable?


      The Internet is increasingly becoming the transport of choice for video, not just text and occasional static images.

      I think a bigger problem with the study is that it only sets a minimum bar for downstream bandwidth. They really need to consider upstream bandwidth, latency and maximum usage as well. I think a good minimum standard would be 3 Mbps down, 500 Kbps up, maximum round trip time to major Internet sites of 200 ms and a total usage cap (up and/or down) of no less than 100 GB per month.

  • I grew up in northwest Arkansas, around mostly conservative religious anti-government hard working self-sufficient type (moved to the East Coast for Univ). Maybe the USA needs to just stop subsidizing post offices and forcing airlines to fly to small cities, and stop letting septic tanks make suburban homes cheaper than people paying for city sewer because water treatment is too expensive, etc.. There should be advantages to the people who live in / near cities (just as there are advantages to rural livin
    • I grew up in northwest Arkansas, around mostly conservative religious anti-government hard working self-sufficient type (moved to the East Coast for Univ). Maybe the USA needs to just stop subsidizing post offices and forcing airlines to fly to small cities, and stop letting septic tanks make suburban homes cheaper than people paying for city sewer because water treatment is too expensive, etc.. There should be advantages to the people who live in / near cities (just as there are advantages to rural living we cannot guarantee city folk). Trying to bring every city advantage to every corner of the country isn't wanted by the original inhabitants, at least not at the cost demanded (or the free market would have done it). Maybe they will discover that broadband doesn't belong in every single niche. Or maybe someone will figure out a cheaper way to bring broadband to the country.

      I agree 100%! Since most power plants are built out in the country instead of the city, the city folk shouldn't get the benefit of that electricity. Same with natural gas. Last time I was in a major city, I didn't see one natural gas well or nuclear plant. Then, too, let the city folk grow their own food. So yes, let the country folk quit subsidizing the city folk.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        Gas wells exist in cities they cover them with fake houses and such. Sometimes they don't even do that. []
        This shows just how close many are to cities. In some cases this puts them right in the suburbs.

        The reality is rural areas are poorer. They are subsidized by cities. Farming subsidies are some of the biggest subsidies in our country. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!

        We should subsidize farmers to prevent another dustbowl. We should provide

    • Exactly, not everyone wants/needs broadband.
  • 19 million don't have access to broadband and another 26 million can't afford it.

  • by Nodar ( 821035 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:56AM (#41093581)
    I work for a small rural (very rural) telco that is laying fiber to our customers, and supplying them with up to 100mbps speeds. Then the big guys come in, block our access to polls and such in attempts to service remote customers, but then, themselves, refuse to service them. We think it has something to do with hoarding funds that are available for servicing rural customers. Also, our customers, a large majority of them, can't get anything close to dependable cellular data, heck, most of them can't even get enough signal for cellular voice. Our voice will never get heard, because we are too small, but doing the best we can to service these people.
  • If you wonder why everyone's capping service, The FCC is why.
    The Feds come in and pay you to offer "broadband" in an area. So you install T1's, put in some DSL cards, etc...
    Then the feds are gone. Never to return.
    Meanwhile you have about 12 people fed by a single remote that has 3 T1s
    All 12 of them turn on netflix on Friday night and... now you have problems
    It's not profitable or cost effective to give those 12 people service that fast for the price the feds want you to charge. The only answer is capping th
  • Lots of rural access is served by small ISPs as the big guys won't touch those markets with a 10ft pole. None of these outfits have full time legal/process teams. Most have never even heard of FCC form 477 or simply incapable or unwilling to fill it out. The FCC for the most part lacks the will to enforce/care. Virtually all of the FCC data is coming from mid-sized to large providers only.

    The FCCs definitions and inconsistancies still crack me up.

    On pg 7 "In this report, we assess our nationâ(TM)s p

  • ...that 19mil of our population live out in the middle of nowheresville.
  • I was gonna be all like, "haha suckers, that's what you get for living in middle-of-nowheresville! Move to a proper city!" I live right in the middle of a city that might not be in the top 10 biggest in the US by population, but is definitely in the top 50, and I have a choice between 1Mbps and 3. No wonder there are 19m. (Yes, it is annoying. I'm assuming it's a last mile issue.)

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