The most startling "spatial" statistic that jumps out at me when I look at the newly minted National Broadband Map, released yesterday by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is the availability, or lack thereof, of "fiber to the end user." What a disaster! Here we are the most prosperous nation in the world and we don't even have the opportunity to buy the best available service for high speed Internet!
Why am I so discombobulated? On a recent trip to Amersterdam late last year, I visited a friend's home only to be shown how he has fiber optic service directly into his house. I was stunned. I wouldn't even know how to request such service in my home town of Huntsville, Alabama. And just as an aside, why shouldn't the Rocket City be tripping over fiber optic cables, given its status as a hub of rocket scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center and advanced munitions operations on the Redstone Arsenal.
We need fiber to our homes...but its unlikely to come anytime soon. Just look at the map!
Other revealing statistics in the NTIA press release that should wake up our Congressmen to the abyssmal status of our ability to compete in the information technology world of the 21st Century include:
- 5-10% of Americans lack the ability to have any kind of broadband service
- 36% of Americans have access to wireless (fixed, mobile, licensed, and unlicensed) Internet service at maximum advertised download speeds of 6 Mbps or greater
- Only 4% of libraries subscribe to service above 25 Mbp
- 67% of surveyed schools subscribed to speeds lower than 25 Mbps (its estimated that schools need between 50-100 Mbps to support the student population)
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling perhaps said it best: “The National Broadband Map shows there are still too many people and community institutions lacking the level of broadband service needed to fully participate in the Internet economy."
And it's not just that...its the level and availability of superior service that will kill our competitive stature in the world. It will compromise our national security if we do not find the funds to support a build out of fiber throughout the country.
See also my interview with Connected Nation on further National Broadband Map information.