DEPLOYMENT OF BROADBAND TO RURAL AMERICA
[SOURCE: US Internet Association, AUTHOR: David P. McClure]
A 2008 survey of its members by the US Internet Industry Association, combined with information provided by affiliated telecom associations, finds robust levels of broadband deployment in the majority of states, and significant planned investments for expansion in the immediate future. Data collected to date supports five conclusions with respect to rural broadband: Deployment of broadband has been achieved at a remarkable pace given the land mass of America and the unusually high percentage of residents in rural areas. There remain substantial differences between rates of rural deployment of broadband and rates of adoption. Issues related to broadband deployment need to be separated from issues related to the adoption and use of these technologies. The remaining issues of deployment have been assisted by state and local mapping projects (such as those of California and Kentucky), which have helped to identify area where additional focus and investment are needed. More and better data is needed in order to make effective broadband policy. There are programs emerging that focus resources on the factors related to adoption, and these need to be strengthened. These conclusions will have a significant impact on public policy related to broadband: Regulation of the Internet, from open access to network neutrality, won't stimulate adoption of broadband. More and better data is needed. Federal programs should focus on supporting state and local efforts. Infrastructure investment will still be critical. The same needs for policy support exist in urban, suburban and rural areas.
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