Data & Mapping
There are many challenges to broadband connectivity in rural and unserved areas of Texas, and currently Texas is one of six states that does not have a statewide broadband plan. In studying the progress of broadband development in unserved areas, the Council found that over 300,000 locations in Texas are unserved. As of July 2020, an estimated 926,859 Texans do not have access to broadband at home. The Council found that Texas’ rural population represents approximately 90 percent of all Texans without broadband access. The Council also studied barriers to broadband development in Texas.
At the web sites of the five largest cable operators, upload speeds almost never get the same billing as download speeds; at worst, you may need to look up a technical-support document. Comcast, the nation’s largest internet provider with 27.8 million residential broadband customers, doesn’t list upload speeds if you check for its Xfinity service at an address or start ordering service at its site. Spectrum, the second-largest provider, also doesn’t list upload speeds if you check for or order service.
In mid-September, BroadbandUSA’s State Broadband Leaders Network (SBLN) held its semiannual Summit to discuss broadband issues and policy at the state level. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) provided an update on its National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM) and introduced BroadbandUSA’s new State Broadband Mapping Cohort.
For all that has changed since the Benton Institute released Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s, this goal remains paramount. In October 2019, we said that connecting our entire nation through High-Performance Broadband would bring remarkable economic, social, cultural, and personal benefits. We said that open, affordable, robust broadband is the key to all of us reaching for—and achieving—the American Dream.
The Data Mapping to Save Mom's Lives Act (S. 3152) would require the Federal Communications Commission to incorporate data on maternal health outcomes into its most recently available broadband health mapping tools. In addition, the bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report to the Congress on the effectiveness of Internet connectivity in reducing maternal morbidity rates.
The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural America. The 5G Fund will use multi-round reverse auctions in two phases to target support from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to eligible areas based upon the improved mobile broadband coverage data gathered in the FCC’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection proceeding.
American Connection Project organizations launch an interactive tool for users to locate more than 2,300 free Wi-Fi locations in 49 states
Several partner organizations announced the launch of the American Connection Project (ACP) interactive Wi-Fi map. The map provides a free resource to help the public locate more than 2,300 free Wi-Fi locations across 49 US states. The map includes Wi-Fi locations from Land O’Lakes, Inc.
The digital divide hasn’t gone away, despite much money spent and many speeches made. A patchwork of conflicting government programs, flawed maps, and weak enforcement have left broad swaths of the country without access to high-speed or even basic internet service when people need it more than ever. The result is a longstanding source of personal frustration and economic disadvantage for many rural communities in areas where spread-out housing makes adding new wires expensive.
SatelliteInternet.com published a report based on more than 1 million internet speed tests in rural cities: communities with populations of less than 10,000 people that are at least an hour away from the nearest major city. Over the last ten months, the national average for all rural speed tests increased from 39.01Mbps to 45.9Mbps, which is encouraging.