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Broadband Access In The United States – The Revealing Truth

The definition of internet broadband is changing. Broadband access is increasingly becoming a universal need for all. In the United States there continues to be a “Digital Divide” more driven by household income and pricing than broadband availability and access to a computer. Here are the facts (the whats, whens, whos, wheres, and whys) about internet broadband access in the United States.

What is Broadband Access?

The Digital Divide: - Broadband access

As of 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband as having download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. It can be delivered via multiple technologies including fiber, fixed wireless, digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable.  As technology evolves and demand for broadband access increases it is expected that the definition of minimum broadband speeds will increase to 100 Mbps or more. See more on Broadband Internet Too Slow.

When Did Internet Broadband Access Become a Concern?

Broadband access first became important with the advent and the initial growth of the world-wide web, 1995-2005. Higher download speeds became important to us due to the need to download graphic-rich web pages. Now increasingly faster and faster broadband speeds are needed for telephony and streaming services that are replacing traditional cable networks. Now with the increased use of video conferencing and virtual private networks (VPN), download speeds are becoming important as well for broadband internet users. More on Internet Access.

The Digital Divide – Who Is and Who is Not Accessing Broadband?

About 75% of Americans have broadband access as of 2021. When looking at demographics such as race, gender, income, education, and rural / urban communities, income has become the biggest gap. Currently, households who have incomes under $30K only have 57% broadband access versus incomes over $75K have 87% broadband access. See Pew Research Center  and Peter J. Peterson Foundation for more information.

Where is Broadband Access Better and Worst? 

As the United States invented the Internet, it is surprising to note that the United States does not have the top speeds in regard to broadband download speeds. As of 2021, SouthEast Asia countries (South Korea, Singapore, etc.) as well as some European countries (Switzerland, Romania, etc.) have faster internet speeds than the United States with 152.60 Mbps. See First Site Guide for more statistics on broadband access around the world. See FCC Broadband Map for more info by county on broadband access in U.S.

Why Does the Broadband Digital Divide Continue to Exist? 

Key factors that limit broadband access are pricing, availability, and access to a computer. At least in the United States, broadband availability is becoming less of an issue as most Americans have access to at least one, if not more broadband providers. Also, access to a computer or smartphone is becoming less of an issue to access broadband internet See Wikipedia. Pricing is now the major driver in creating the digital divide. Factors that affect pricing include density of population (costs for providers to build infrastructure) and broadband competition (no incentive for providers to innovate, be efficient, and reduce prices) in a given service area. See Broadband Now and Engadget for more information.

For more information from Unvarnished Facts, see articles on information technology, helping people, and government.

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