FCC: 26 Million Don’t Have Broadband Access25 May, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey
A report to Congress from the Federal Communications Commission estimates approximately 26 million Americans, most residing in rural areas of the country, don’t have broadband Internet access, and that a full third of Americans, or more than 100 million, don’t subscribe to broadband even when it’s available.
“More and more every day, not having broadband is a major barrier to finding and applying for a job, getting a world-class education or obtaining access to health care,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. “Today, lack of access to broadband is a much bigger obstacle to the opportunities that are essential for consumer welfare and America’s economic growth and global competitiveness than it was even a few years ago.”
The FCC report suggests barriers to adoption of broadband include cost, concerns about privacy and “low digital literacy.” Low-income Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, seniors and residents of tribal areas are especially missing from the ranks of broadband users.
“Without action by the FCC, in partnership with the states and the private sector, prospects for broadband service in many of the areas cited in the report will remain unacceptably low,” the FCC said in a statement. “The report emphasizes that, notwithstanding our continuing broadband challenges, significant progress has been made over the past few years in both the private and public sectors. Despite the difficult economy, the private sector continues to invest tens of billions of dollars in broadband infrastructure each year — $65 billion in capital expenditures in 2010 alone — expanding capacity, increasing speeds on fixed networks and rolling out next-generation mobile services like 4G.”
The report estimates more than 200,000 jobs can be created, thanks to investment in 4G wireless technologies.