The National Telecommunications & Information
Administration (NTIA) said Thursday that 5%-10% of Americans can't get
broadband at baseline speeds ((3-10 mbps maximum advertised download speeds)), and that just
-released census data and its interactive broadband map support its targetting
of broadband stimulus funds.
That is according to a new broadband adoption study based on
census bureau data and a new online, interactive broadband map that will be
launched later today at www.broadbandmap.gov.
NTIA said that broadband adoption has increased from 63.5%
to 68.2%, but said a digital divide persists, including that adoption by
Hispanics and African Americans still trail that of whites by 20%.
NTIA chief Larry Strickling said that one thing the broaband
map and study did was support NTIA's emphasis on allocation of stimulus funding
to anchor institutions. Using 50 mbps to 100 mbps as a baseline speed for
anchor institutions like schools and libraries, two thirds of schools have
speeds lower than 25 mbps, and 96% of libraries have lower than 25 mbps.
The map, which has more than 25 million searchable records,
includes breakouts by wired and wireless, Docsis 3 and "other" cable
modem, fiber to the home, copper and much more. The speeds are advertised,
although NTIA (which teamed with the FCC on creating the map), also included
over 2 million records from the FCC's broadband speed test that includes some
actual speeds by those participants.
The map does not include pricing data. Strickling explained that prices vary widely not just between operators but within levels of service, and include discount plans that "come and go." He also said that since the map is only updated twice a year, it would be outdated. "We felt that overall it would probably be more misleading to consumers to contain price." But he did say they map provides a click-through to the providers listed on the map so consumers can more easily shop the service.
Free Press, which praised the effort, saw that as a key flaw. "[T]he map lacks the most important data for broadband market analysis -- the price of service. This glaring omission is due solely to fierce opposition from the phone and cable industry, which threatened to hold the mapping effort hostage if NTIA required the collection of pricing data," the group said in a statement. "We urge the FCC to pick up where the NTIA left off, to stand up to the phone and cable industry, and to use its authority under the law to compel ISPs to report basic, granular pricing and availability data."
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said the commission plans to use the map to help target funding from the Universal Service Fund as part of its migration to broadband subsidies, and Strickling said he, too, expected the data to inform that effort. "[The FCC] has released an NPRM to update the Universal Service Program," said Strickling, "I would hope and expect teh data on our map will help inform various decisions the FCC will be taking..."
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who was on a webinar with Strickling and others to announce the map and survey, pointed out that it was all open source and he expected innovators to take the data and create new apps. The Obama administration has made a government-wide goal of opening up data to online massaging, slicing and dicing.
According to the map data, 36% of Americans have access to wireless at a maximum advertised speed of at least 6 mbps, or what they suggest is a 4G benchmark. That leaves a lot of work for the administration, which wants 4G available to 98% of the population within five years.
The data shows that 95% of Americans have access to wireless at least 768 kbps, or roughly 3G.
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