The National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) released the National Broadband Map today. This $200 million project offers public access to a thorough analysis of national broadband availability, and hopes to increase access, especially to “communities at risk of being left behind.”
The NTIA collaborated with the FCC to extract the data, which revealed that 5 to 10 percent of Americans cannot access Internet speeds that would allow incredibly basic Web functions, including downloading images or video chat capability. Only 36 percent of Americans have access to wireless Internet, most using “3G” speeds. The 2010 US Census revealed a shocking amount of disparity when it comes to Internet accessibility, and it’s become a government focus to amend the situation. Just last year, the NTIA determined that 40 percent of Americans went without home broadband connections.
While some of us have been left in the lurch, the map did prove that more Americans have access to the Internet in general than last year – nearly 5 percent more. And you can research all the improvements for yourself with the interactive map. Users aren’t limited to vague stats about broadband accessibility: It allows you to customize your search. You can browse details like broadband options and specific street addresses. According to the Commerce Department, the map will be updated twice a year to include connectivity improvements.
So how did the NTIA pay for this? A good deal came from the 2009 Recovery Act, which specified funds for a national broadband inventory. After deciding to enact a plan to provide broadband service nationwide, the FCC realized it needed to assess where it was unavailable. Now, the data has been laid at our fingertips and the government is working on improving our Internet connection.