School, libraries not well connected: Commerce Dept.

More than two-thirds of Americans are well connected – to the Internet, that is – but schools and libraries aren’t, according to new data from the US Department of Commerce. At least, those important institutions’ connections are relatively slow. The department this week unveiled BroadbandMap.gov, a search engine that, when you type in an address, city, county, or zip code, tells you what high-speed Internet service is available, the technology used to provide it, “the maximum advertised speeds of the service, and the names of the service providers,” PC Magazine reports. With the unveiling, the Commerce Department also reported that 68% of US households have broadband access, up from 63.5% last year. But schools and libraries are “largely underserved,” the government found. “Two-thirds of surveyed schools subscribe to speeds lower than 25 Mbps and only 4% subscribe to speeds greater than 25 Mbps,” PC Magazine cited the government as saying. The map is the public-service part of the inventory of broadband coverage the US government undertook because of the 2009 Recovery Act, President Obama’s economic stimulus package – an inventory that cost about $200 million to take. The inventory also found that “5-10% of Americans lack broadband access at speeds that support a basic set of applications. Another 36% lack access to wireless service.” And 28% of Americans don’t use the Internet at all, the New York Times reports in its coverage of the Commerce Department’s news. The Times led with the connectivity picture in rural Coffeeville, AL, where the county administrator can’t get broadband access at her house. [Thanks to my friend Daniel in Portugal for pointing this news out.]


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