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Tue May 11, 2021, 05:34 AM

THIS IS A MAP OF AMERICA'S BROADBAND PROBLEM

If broadband access was a problem before 2020, the pandemic turned it into a crisis. As everyday businesses moved online, city council meetings or court proceedings became near-inaccessible to anyone whose connection couldn’t support a Zoom call. Some school districts started providing Wi-Fi hotspots to students without a reliable home connection. In other districts, kids set up in McDonald’s parking lots just to get a reliable enough signal to do their homework. After years of slowly widening, the broadband gap became impossible to ignore.

So as we kick off our Infrastructure Week series, we wanted to show the scope of the problem ourselves. This map shows where the broadband problem is worst — the areas where the difficulty of reliably connecting to the internet has gotten bad enough to become a drag on everyday life. Specifically, the colored-in areas show US counties where less than 15 percent of households are using the internet at broadband speed, defined as 25Mbps download speed. (That’s already a pretty low threshold for calling something “high-speed internet,” but since it’s the Federal Communications Commission’s standard, we’ll stick with it.)

Maps like this are important because, for much of the past decade, the scale of the problem has been maddeningly difficult to pin down. Most large-scale assessments of American broadband access rely on FCC data, a notoriously inaccurate survey drawn from ISPs’ own descriptions of the areas they serve. Even as the commission tries to close the broadband gap, its maps have been misleading policymakers about how wide the gap really is

https://www.theverge.com/22418074/broadband-gap-america-map-county-microsoft-data?scrolla=5eb6d68b7fedc32c19ef33b4


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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 06:31 AM

1. Fascinating. Thanks. I don't think I'd seen a map like this before.

I work with someone who is one street away from not having available internet. One street over its satellite or nothing. This is about a 40 minute commute for them so it’s not that far out of town.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 06:48 AM

2. I would bet the number is even lower.

The best option for internet where I live is satellite. While I pay for a 25 Mbps plan the caveat is that it is technically for speeds “up to” that level. I have never gotten that speed and speed test averages for me are more like 11-12 on a good day, weather permitting.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 07:09 AM

3. So we've been paying for ensuring that all customers can get access to the voice world via the

a monthly, per-line surcharge paid by the customer to recover local companies' contribution to the Federal Universal Service Fund. This fund supports telecommunications and information services in schools, public libraries, and rural health-care facilities. The fund also subsidizes local service to high-cost areas and low-income customers. The FCC regulates this charge.

The Federal Universal Service Fund (FUSF) rate is reviewed quarterly. This fee helps to keep local telephone rates affordable for all customers and gives a discount to schools, libraries and low-income families.

So where are these facilities that this fee is supposedly generating? This fee used to be a flat 1% of the phone bill, I don't know what it is now, but I never hear about what facilities are being set up because of this fee, nor do I hear of the users being bought onboard because of this monthly fee.

And, unfortunately, politics has stuck its ugly head into the process being that 1/2 of the FCC members are repugs, and the other half are democrats so the spectrum of politics has raised again, its ugly head. Issues get regularly sidelined or can't get resolved because members conflict w/ each other on how things should be paid for, etc.

Some areas across the world have suffered of course seriously from a serious lack of telephone related infrastructure, perhaps this is a good time to finally bite the bullet and bring the telephone/data world to areas in the US that are lacking such facilities (due to the sheer physical issues of connecting the very few customers in such areas) by embracing new technologies etc. Maybe Starlink (Musk's array of satellites)?

This issue has been around for a very very long time.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 07:45 AM

4. Wasn't all that long ago I remember

the joy of dial up service. I could go make a cup of coffee waiting for a image to download. That was just 20 years ago.
Then back in about 2007, in the flip phone age, that I was at a conference and an older guy had a tiny IPod he was playing with. He was on the internet. Had to go get one that week.
I'm in a dead spot now. No close Verizon tower near by. Have high speed cable wi-fi for my cell phone. The cable went out and I had to drive to McDonalds.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 07:48 AM

5. Well that explains a lot re: the middle of the country.

Yet enough dumbasses there apparently get brainwashed by the “news” they receive on Facebook to damn near destroy our Democracy.

The gray areas elsewhere also explain a lot.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 07:55 AM

6. I'm in Madison County, Alabama (Huntsville).

We have the highest percentage in the state at 63%

I just checked my speed, and got 300Mbps down and 100 up, that's from AT&T. I thought I had 100/100, but my housemate, who is the account holder said she recently went with an upgrade offer. I don't think much of the internet needs even this much speed to work, and the wifi is solid. I watch Pluto TV sometimes on my smart Tv, and never have any issues.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 08:01 AM

7. As with so many other things in our country

the solution is as simple as changing American behavior. That should be simple, right? You could try just getting rid of the things that are creating this gap, mainly greed and the ability to engage in dick waving. I don't know if many of you were around back in the fairly early days of cable, but this same issue always came up. Simply put, the cable companies were not going to go out and install a line unless they could get a multi-hundred percent return on their costs. When you live on a road that is miles long, yet has only four farms on it... well, you are just S.O.L. (Shit Outta Luck). So, twenty years later, we finally got satellite. And, at the time, it costs like five times as much to get half the connection, and that connection was shaky at best. Face it, unless you remove the greed and the fact that businesses are engaged in massive dick waving when it comes to the internet, those who are not in the market to start their own server will always be left behind. How about setting a standard when it comes to certain 'necessary' websites so that most computers can actually visit it without crashing because their site requires the fastest, most powerful connection? Or, maybe not make the internet the only way to apply for work when some computers cannot access the sites that offer jobs? Oh sorry... too much to ask.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 08:04 AM

8. I'm about ready to quit my DSL service as it has gone completely unreliable.

I get about .6 MB on a good day and it drops about 5 or 6 times a day...seems dependent on usage of my neighbors....and weather. That costs $95/mo for phone and internet from Verizon.

My options are Comcast which is getting a $2500 Surcharge to install in my area and quoted a total of $7000 to put in a cable up my 800 ft. driveway. Then the $80 monthly bills would start (Very basic required TV and slowest internet).

I think a better accounting of what broad band is available across the country would be to relate it to cost/mo. Just because 25 mbs are available doesn't mean it is affordable for the non business user. You know, it is not deductible for the school kid. I'd like to see a chart that shows what is available for say $40/mo. in each county.

Internet has been a thing since about 1995. (Windows 95 pretty much brought the internet to the houses of America) That's 25 year ago. The service should be taken over by the Federal Government and made available to every American for a set schedule of prices.

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Response to rgbecker (Reply #8)

Tue May 11, 2021, 08:40 AM

12. "The service should be taken over by the Federal Government"

The original "pipelines" were owned and operated by the federal government (in the U.S.) and were eventually commercialized in the late '80s/'early '90s. By the time Windoze 95 came out, the "world wide web" had already been established, with private ISPs (Internet Service Providers) offering internet access from their own portals, which provided links to top-level domain sites for commercial sites (i.e., other than .gov, .mil, & .edu, IOW the now ubiquitous ".com" sites).

Windoze 95, with Microsoft building their own browser (Internet Explorer) into their OS (which generated lawsuits galore from other browser creators like Netscape, forcing Microsoft to untangle IE from their OS and allow installation of something different), and being automatically installed on probably 99% of new computers, did introduce many to the "web".

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 08:09 AM

9. Does that include their phones?

Many in my area either have satellite, cable or cellphone.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 08:12 AM

10. Broadband should be a public utility

I have satellite internet, pay for speeds "up to" 25mbps..only thing available here.. It depends on the weather. Today 19mbps down/ 7 mbps up. For years I had a monthly data cap...frustrated I went to their web site and saw I could upgrade for more data ,less price, same speed....First call said not available in my area. Second call got it done..Considering Starlink. However, new utility poles are being installed and wire being strung for rural broadband. Time will tell. Covid shutdown really brought to light the under served areas.. Lucky we have a library with wifi and fast speeds to do downloads.. Wish NYS would have to gone to a public municipal broadband.. there are 18 states restricting this..
https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadblocks/

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 08:17 AM

11. A different site had a screenshot of the map at the OP link (thankfully) & it looks like this



Here in Philly during the school shutdown, they *finally* discovered and accepted that lack of access and had to distribute some 50,000 Chromebooks to students the past year because leading up to the pandemic, it was estimated that upwards of 50% of 3 -12 grade students had no home computer internet access (the School District has over 200,000 public/charter/cyber-charter/alternative students - doesn't count private/religion schools). They had to shame Comcast and Verizon to get students hooked up under their special programs (paid for out of federal/local/charitable funds).

This is in the middle of the corporate HQ of Comcast who has the 2 largest towers in the city.

(L-Comcast Center, R-Comcast Technology Center)

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Tue May 11, 2021, 11:37 AM

13. Small fallacy hidden in here

While zoom call invites emphasize the video link, there’s always a phone number to call for audio only. It is more difficult to figure out who’s speaking but at least the meeting can be attended.

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