An excellent article in today’s Salon magazine provides a thorough assessment of the state of broadband access in the United States. The U.S. continues to fall behind other countries in broadband penetration. The problem, according to the article, stems from federal mismanagement of telecom policy and misrepresentation of the current levels of broadband access and quality.
The digital divide seems to widen with each advance in technology – even when a technology emerges that could make providing access cheaper and easier. The divide runs along familiar lines of class and geography (rural vs. urban), and the line between regions that can attract new businesses and residents and those that can’t. It can also be seen as a divide between those with better access to news and information and those without access.
The article also puts in fresh perspective efforts by municipalities – San Francisco being the most recent and prominent – to provide broadband Internet services directly to their citizens. Telecom companies claim that this stifles the competition that can lead to lower prices and better quality. And yet most Americans have neither.