Internet Access and Poverty

MIT Technology Review article excerpts:

Why It Matters

“… one-third of Americans don’t have wired Internet access at home.  Their “non-adoption is tightly correlated with income and education level.” In other words, people who most need a digital boost can’t afford to get it.   Crawford adds that the United States is a nation of communications monopolies.  “For more than 80 percent of Americans, their only choice for world-class Internet access will be their local cable monopoly. And 19 million Americans can’t buy a wired connection at any price–it’s not available where they live.”    
“In Hong Kong, I’m told you can get 500 megabits-per-second Internet service for $25 a month.  In my Massachusetts neighborhood–which happens to be served by Verizon FIOS fiber service–getting one-tenth that speed will set you back $80 (plus taxes and fees).  And whereas in Hong Kong uploads are as fast as downloads, the Verizon service gives me half-speed on the uploads.
Crawford concludes: “We have a highly-concentrated yet second-rate picture in America, because we’ve both deregulated this sector and allowed sweeping consolidation. By contrast, in many countries, the policy is to get everyone connected to fiber to their home … at a reasonable price.”  The relatively high costs of service at my house are typical of the American market. There are a few notable exceptions (see “When Will the Rest of us get Google Fiber?”).  But we’ve got a long way to go to empower most Americans with communications technologies.

Much of the United States has far slower Internet-access connections than are available in Asian and European countries.

By timmreardon

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