The NTIA released its national broadband map, indicating which areas of the country still lack sufficient Internet access. The NTIA website contains a treasure trove of data for consumers, analysts, providers, and policymakers to examine. Not surprisingly the data demonstrates that many rural areas in the country lack broadband access. The map also contains information regarding broadband speeds, a breakdown of broadband stimulus projects by state, and various demographics. The map was an important component of President Obama's broadband stimulus program under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).
The information contained in the maps are important for states as well, as they contemplate grant proposals and potential federal funding from President Obama's National Wireless Initiative.
What are some of the conclusions reached regarding the mapping data? Obviously this depends on your perspective. If you don't have broadband currently, you will want to type in your address on the website, to see which broadband providers provide service in your neighborhood. For a wider perspective, these are the numbers:
- Approximately 7 million people do not have access to broadband in the United States
- 30% of the nation have broadband availability rates of 95% or more
- 12% of the nation have broadband availability rates of 50% or less
The map is completely interactive with any number of statistics ready to be displayed. The production and release of the map is unprecedented, and intended to be used as a tool to identify areas of the country where access to broadband is a problem. Each state received federal funding to supply the NTIA with mapping data for their state.
President Obama set an ambitious goal to have broadband available to 98% of all Americans. Not factored into the information gleaned from this map is broadband adoption rates. Increasing broadband adoption rates is considered even more difficult as the reasons are varied and hard to tackle. Issues such as affordability, digital literacy, and perception of need are cited as top factors. The President's goal with regard to broadband adoption rates is 90% in ten years. The current national broadband adoption rate is approximately 65%.