The FCC is bringing to light exactly how behind we here in the U.S. are behind other countries in the world. Some of the statistics suggest that some 100 million American do not have broadband access because of cost, where they live or because they do not understand how important the Internet has become. In a .pdf document, the head of the FCC stated:
Right now, the vast majority of Americans don’t have broadband fast enough to take advantage
of remote video learning or diagnostics.
Right now, roughly 14 million Americans do not even have access to broadband.
Right now, more than 100 million Americans that could and should have broadband don’t have
it. Because they can’t afford broadband, don’t know how to use it, or aren’t aware of its potential
benefits. That’s an adoption rate of roughly 65 percent of U.S. households, compared with 88
percent adoption in Singapore, and 95 percent adoption in South Korea. The U.S. adoption rate is
even lower than 65 percent among low-income, minority, rural, tribal, and disabled households.
Unemployed Americans lack sufficient Internet access, even though job postings are increasingly
online only. We are leaving millions behind.
Right now, many small businesses do not have access to a basic broadband connection. One
estimate indicates that 26 percent of rural business sites do not have access to a standard cable
modem and 9 percent don’t have DSL. More than 70 percent of small businesses have little or no
Right now, the United States does not have nearly enough spectrum to meet its medium- and
long-term mobile broadband needs. There may be no greater obstacle to our country having a
world-leading mobile broadband infrastructure, and the economic benefits that would bring.
Right now, our public schools are far behind where they should be when it comes to having the
ability to deliver educational content in an accessible digital form, to all students. Tens of
millions of kids who need to study online at home simply can’t, and their parents are shut off
from the ability to participate with their kids and teachers in the educational effort.
Right now, we lack the medical records systems and standards necessary to attain the improved
health outcomes and reduced costs of telemedicine. Tens of thousands of health care facilities
don’t have sufficient broadband connections to support telehealth services, and doctors face
serious practical impediments to adopting online medicine as part of their practices.
Hopefully this problem is going to be addressed and broadband will become available for all Americans. Because of our preoccupation letting private companies control broadband so they can line their pockets, the fact remains that broadband must be made available to everyone, not just the wealthiest of Americans who can afford it.