The REAL Digital Divide: America’s Internet Lags Behind

Today, Government Technology released an article with some pretty alarming statistics on where America is in the digital revolution. We are losing.

The article, The Truth Behind America’s Digital Decline, by S. Derek Turner, offers a great snapshot of how far behind we are, including these little tidbit-facts…

  • The United States remains 16th in the world in broadband penetration, according to the International Telecommunications Union, and places 21st in the U.N. rankings of “digital opportunity.”
  • Consumers in other countries enjoy broadband connections that are far faster and cheaper. U.S. consumers pay nearly twice as much as the Japanese for connections that are 20 times as slow.
  • Increased capacity abroad has made available “triple-play” services — fast broadband bundled with TV and phone service — for less than the cost of most standalone U.S. broadband connections. The threat of competition — not government regulation — is the most important factor behind broadband infrastructure investment decisions.
  • The price of broadband service, and not necessarily the lack of a home computer, is the key barrier to broadband adoption by low-income households.
  • The FCC counts a ZIP code as covered by broadband service if it contains just one broadband subscriber, inflating estimates of broadband availability and competition.
  • The FCC’s low standard for “high-speed” connections (200 kbps) is barely fast enough for users to receive low-quality streaming video.

And no, it’s not your imagination that your Internet is getting slower:

  • U.S. prices show no real signs of dropping. Cable modem prices are holding constant or rising, and DSL customers on average are getting less bandwidth per dollar than they did just a year ago.

Take a moment and read the whole article for a better overview than these few bullets. And if you still think this isn’t about making money… take a gander at the facts on spending by the cable and phone companies on the media issue so far this year. It promises to be a record “spending season” on Capitol Hill — and in the trenches of the popular media advertising world.

Get a quick course in the impact of media decisions being made for you today here: http://www.freepress.net/guide/ (Update 4/2011 link is defunct). Your media, your freedom, your access, your knowledge, your opportunities…. they all matter.

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