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National Broadband Map Shows Digital Divide 182

Hugh Pickens writes writes "PC Magazine reports that the Commerce Department has unveiled a national broadband inventory map, which will allow the public to see where high-speed Internet is available throughout the country. Users can search by address, view data on a map, or use other interactive tools to compare broadband across various geographies, such as states, counties or congressional districts. Commerce officials say the information can help businesses decide if they want to move to a certain location, based on broadband availability. The map, costing about $200 million and financed through the 2009 Recovery Act, shows that 5-10 percent of Americans lack broadband access at speeds that support a basic set of applications. Another 36 percent lack access to wireless service. Community anchor institutions like schools and libraries are also 'largely underserved,' the data finds, and two-thirds of surveyed schools subscribe to speeds lower than 25 Mbps and only 4 percent of libraries subscribe to speeds greater than 25 Mbps. '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,' says Larry Strickling, assistant secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). 'We are pleased to see the increase in broadband adoption last year, particularly in light of the difficult economic environment, but a digital divide remains.'"
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National Broadband Map Shows Digital Divide

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  • by fish waffle ( 179067 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:05PM (#35236880)
    The map, costing about $200 million

    Really? I'd of done it for a paltry $150 million.
    • by dattaway ( 3088 ) *

      That's a steal at $0.50 cents per person. A fancy gold plated push pin on the map for every American!

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      What I find amazing is that it cost $200m, doesn't state prices or actual speeds. And they're actually proud of that. Did common sense go out the window? Or is the majority of people these days skipping that trait during character creation?

    • Really? I'd of done it for a paltry $150 million.

      I bet it would have worked on firefox, too.

      Apparently $200,000,000 doesn't pay for testing on a range of browsers.

      If I could display the government's map I'd take a look at how much stuff it downloaded. I bet it's so bloated it's only viewable over broadband.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Yes, this is why when people bitch and moan about cuts I have no sympathy whatsoever. There is no federal government agency that should not take a SEVERE budget cut no matter what it is the WASTE that goes on is simply mind blowing.

      That said since the money is already spent and at least we do have a pretty map to show for it. I do find it interesting how well covered with wired broad band solutions places like Maine actually are. It looks like the midwest is actually well served as well. It seems to be

      • I do find it interesting how well covered with wired broad band solutions places like Maine actually are. It looks like the midwest is actually well served as well. It seems to be only the Western United states that is problematic.

        The most striking part to me was the fact that I could see coverage or lack thereof follow state borders. For example, in the DSL and DSL+cable maps, Indiana has far better coverage than its neighbors (in fact some of the best in the Union), and North Dakota sucks $private_part compared to its neighbors South Dakota and Minnesota.

      • I know this is /., but it was $20m to make the map, and most of the rest of the $180m or so was collecting the data. Not sure how reasonable that is, but that's how they broke it down. Given that you're taking about 50 states plus DC, that's roughly 30m per state on average. Again, I'm not sure what it should costs, but getting reliable data is hard and expensive, the previous method was determining if there was at least one connection in the zip code that met the definition of broadband, the entire zip cod

    • It is also a 200 million dollar pile of BS. I put my mom's address in there and they have the area covered by up to 10Mbps which is complete and TOTAL horseshit. They have Verizon (doesn't service this area) AT&T (doesn't service anyone outside of town, even a single block) and Cox (which told her tough shit, they won't run the block and a half).

      So surprise surprise, the government spent 200 million on yet another pile of useless data. They should have to check and see whether or not an area has cover

      • Agreed. I looked up my house, my mom-in-law's condo and my mom's house.

        All three are incorrect in significant ways.

        • Ditto. They showed 3 possible connections for my house, Charter, Verizon & Beasley Wireless, a little local WISP that I tried to get to work for over 2 years, until I got tired of only having internet between 11pm and 4am. and charter doesn't come within 2 miles of my place.

      • Agreed. This map claims I get Time Warner service 10 mbps-25 mbps. I can get cable, but no internet service is offered (believe me, I call them every month). They're just comparing zip codes or some bull.

  • /. News Networks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Even on Slashdot FOE ( 1870208 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:05PM (#35236884)

    Today's top story is how prominent ISPs received government funding to extend broadband access to more of America and blew it on bonuses and advertisement. And possibly blow.

    In related news, ISPs are complaining about how expensive people who use their entire bandwidth allotment are.

  • by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:06PM (#35236906)

    Indiana seems to have remarkably high penetration of DSL compared to its neighbors. Three of its borders are clearly demarcated. Is there any explanation for this?

    • I don't know, but Vermont has it too. Whatever it is, West Virginia should start taking notes.
    • by Tr3vin ( 1220548 )
      Verizon worked to set up quite a bit of DSL / FiOS in my area. As far as I know, we were one of the first areas to get FiOS. There was a bit of begging and probably some tax breaks involved. We also removed regulations to make it easier for companies to add service. Verizon's FiOS service has been amazing and I haven't had any trouble with it. Unfortunately, Verizon has sold all of their lines to Frontier. Since Frontier is smaller, they are having trouble negotiating TV prices, so there is going to be a ~$
    • Re:Indiana (Score:4, Funny)

      by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:37PM (#35237374)

      Indiana seems to have remarkably high penetration of DSL compared to its neighbors...

      I hate to do it. But I just feel compelled. You walked right into this.

      "Thats what she said"

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      When I look at this map, what I see is population distribution. For example, Indiana and Arizona has about the same population. In Arizona, about a quarter of the people are in the about 400 aquare miles of Pheonix. The rest are spread over the state in a density of less than 40 people per square mile. Compare this to indiana where only about 10% live in Indianapolis and the rest are spead with a density of about 150 people per square mile. In the case of Arizona the state will have to take huge sums o
    • Colorado, the Dakotas, and Kansas have the weird service-stopping-at-their-borders thing going on in the wireless.

  • Canadian Broadband (Score:3, Informative)

    by KingPin27 ( 1290730 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:07PM (#35236912)
    For those of you interested in under served markets -- check out the Canadian set of broadband maps (current to 2010) Maps here []

    Just an FYI currently where I am at (southern Alberta, just outside of Lethbridge). I am maxed out at 3Mbps down on a good day when my DSL isn't bottlenecked from the DSLAM. On average I get about 1.7Mbps with 120ms Ping to most places.
    • by bazorg ( 911295 )

      Blame Canada! Blame Canada!

    • You poor fellow. My connection at work is a T1 -- a symmetric 1.5Mbit connection shared by no less than 30 people, not to mention two externally accessible websites which are hosted on the same connection. And yes, it's absolutely the best connection available at that location. For anything over ~400MB in size, it's literally faster for me to remote into my home setup, start a download, drive home to pick it up, and drive back to work. And for what it's worth, this is less than 2 miles outside the borde

  • According to

    99% of the country is already connected to high speed internet via wireless 3G connections. That only leaves a few nomads living in deserts or montana ranches that can not get "broadband" internet.

    * BTW what is broadband? 100 MHz width? 500 MHz? I've never seen it defined other than the loose "greater than a phoneline's 4 kHz" definition.

    • by NullProg ( 70833 )

      * BTW what is broadband?

      An upgrade from 300 baud to 14400 without any government assistance.


    • by mrdogi ( 82975 )

      Or in a valley that is poorly covered by cells. I have a co-worker who can't get anything beyond dial-up because she is too far out of town (2 miles, maybe) and is nowhere near cable. This is in Western Wisconsin, perhaps 30 miles from downtown St. Paul, MN.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 )

      I don't think it should be a point of accomplishment that 99% of the country is connected to a low speed option. In most cases, our highest speed wired broadband connections are slower than the slowest wireless (4G) connections available in other countries. Especially since it's the result of us paying for the lines and then handing them over to monopolies for whom it is in their best interest to hold back and artificially restrict service capacities.

      At the same time, the map shows (*shock*!) that the dense

    • by 0racle ( 667029 )
      50 miles outside of Raleigh, NC and AT&T only just brought their 3G service to the area about 6 weeks ago. I don't believe 99% of the US has 3G, by area or by population.
    • Broadband is the speed at which porn can be downloaded at an erotically acceptable pace to maintain en erection.

    • 3G qualifies as broadband? That's news to me. That 3G is the same 3G I use for a data plan on my phone right? The data plan that restricts me to less than 5 GB per month before I get throttled down to lower speeds? Sure, that 3G connection may work great for a smartphone, where I check my e-mail a few times a day and might even stream Pandora once or twice, but it's not going to work for general home use.

      Anyone who routinely updates/downloads software over the internet will violate their cap. Anyone who
    • Here's the quote for those who are curious: "Granted, Obama did say "next-generation" wireless, but given the current debate around the definition of fourth generation (4G) wireless, that term now technically includes every variety of mobile broadband faster than 256kbps. It's certain a vast majority of the public will see "next generation" 4G wireless within the next five years without the government lifting a finger.

      "That makes this promise much like the FCC's promise to bring 100 Mbps service to 100 Mil

    • Up until recently BB was defined as 756k. There's been a move to redefine as 3mbps or 5mbps but as far as I know FCC hasn't pulled the trigger on this.

      And it's not just Montana that doesn't get BB wired or wireless. My folks live not 8 miles from a town of 8,000 people (and in a community of at least 40 homes) and can't get cell service (even analog) let along 3g. And no DSL/Cable either.

  • Missing some data (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mitler ( 1879900 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:11PM (#35236972)
    I hope they aren't factoring missing data into their statistics. I'm in York County PA, and the default map showing DSL service is mysteriously blank for the entire county. I think they have some holes in their data, or it's just not displaying it all properly.
    • by alta ( 1263 )

      You expect it to be perfect for $200 million? They passed up the perfect option, it was $200 billion. They would have gone for that option but the company was run by replicans and the dems just couldn't bring themselves to pay them.

      Hey, at least you got a map. it's /.ed for me. Actually, it finally DID work. It shows I have broadband, however it is NOT available to me. I was talking to someone working with this on the state level, and they said the initiative says that if ONE person in a zipcode has a

  • I wonder why is this map so similar to the united states population density [].
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      It isn't really. Make sure you select Cable DOCSIS 3.0 and Fiber to the End User in order to compare broadband as broadband is defined in other countries (Europe, Asia). I don't consider my copper DSL (2Mbps/256k) or Cable (10/1Mbps offered, 3Mbps/512k actual) options here to be very broadband. The only places I do get 10Mbps is against benchmarking sites (very suspiciously it actually goes to 15/3Mbps sometimes on those sites even though the company says it can't go faster than 10).

      • by Jenming ( 37265 )

        My 10/1 Mbs Cable in Maine is consistently above 8 Mbps even at peak times. The upload does leave something to be desired, maybe somewhere around 512k.

      • Suspicious? It means they're giving you more than you pay for. The speeds they advertise are maximum speeds... there are many servers on the Internet that can't sustain 10Mbps downloads, and there are many reasons why it may be slow getting all the way to you. Benchmarking sites are selected because they have excess bandwidth that they can play with. What about something like Netflix... does that go fast for you?

        Really, 10Mbps may not be blow your hair back fast, but it's most certainly "broadband" as far a

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          I can barely stream 720p from YouTube. I should be able to stream 1080p H.264 but it can't, takes forever to load. The more I YouTube however, the slower it gets - the first 2-3 (20 minute) videos work well but then they start buffering while if I go to the YouTube benchmark site which works full throttle.

          NetFlix and other channels (such as Comedy Central) works well at first but then (after 10 minutes) degrades further until it's no longer watchable on a 26 or 32" display. I've changed routers already thin

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        I don't consider my copper DSL (2Mbps/256k) or Cable (10/1Mbps offered, 3Mbps/512k actual) options here to be very broadband


        The luddites in the previous government of my nation (Australia) declared anything over 56 K to be "broadband". Average speed here is about 1.4 Mbit\s and most of the nation is connected via ADSL 2RE

  • Nice job, Feds. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:15PM (#35237038) Journal

    Would have been nice to have put this map showing where the good connections are on a good connection so that more than 10 people can use it at once.

  • "Are you being served?" turns out to be a funny question to ask when [] is incapable of doing so.

  • No Chrome? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by sockonafish ( 228678 )

    Is it just me, or does this not work on Chrome?

  • by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:30PM (#35237276)

    Tennessee has maintained a online map of broadband availability for some time. Except that it shows theoretical broadband availability instead of actual broadband availability. The federal map seems to be Slashdotted, but I'm betting it pulls from the same data sources and has the same problems.

    The Tennessee map tracks cable, DSL, and cellular wireless/WiMAX. According to the map, my parents are serviced by both cable and cellular wireless.

    Except that my parents live at the bottom of a valley and can't get any cell phone signal where they live. And since they live a mile off the main road, the cable company wants $4k to pull cable down to their house.

    So my parents have no broadband. There's a BellSouth DSLAM a mile from their house, but no DSL.

    BellSouth promised to roll out DSL several years ago, purely coincidentally about the time that the local electric co-op was making noises about providing broadband. BellSouth/Charter/Comcast increased their political donations that year by a factor of 100, and again purely by coincidence the republican party passed a law to prevent public co-ops from getting into the internet business. Since the law was passed 3 years ago, BellSouth has been promising us DSL "within 6 months". I expect broadband to arrive in our neighborhood in the "Half-Life 23" timeframe.

  • Usability = 5 out of 10
    Speed = 4
    Design = 6

  • That doesn't sound that bad to me. One of the most rural areas I have recently visited has fiber to the house. The service is provided by the telephone co-op. The co-op claims they can provide 100mbit service if you want it. This is a farm area and the population density is very, very low, but they have fiber!
    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      How come my city had FIOS for a couple years, but not in my neighborhood or big hill? Obviously, no DSL due to 20K ft. :(

  • on home page. It begins:

    [html comment code here]

    [insert ascii art that /. won't let me use because o fthe 'junk characters' filter]

    [//end html comment code]

    And gets worse. Good bloody grief. Who the hell built this and who gave them the time machine from 1995 and no wonder it cost $200M, they evidently had to contribute to the time machine project.

    Oh crap. Now /. (-- junk characters) wants me to use fewer 'junk characters.' Great. Let's just cut&paste from the OP:

    [snip. didn't work.]

  • What's the point in marking every little airport on the map? What does this have to do at ALL with airports. Let me show you ow rediculous this is. 1 mile from my house, there's a grass landing strip. The wealthy owner of a local company wanted his spoiled grown kid to learn how to fly. He was too rich to bother driving the 10 miles to the local airport, so he got the field behind his house designated as a landing strip for small aircraft. They came out and put the orange balls on the high tension pow

  • Gasp! It looks eerily like a population map of the United States! Amazing!

  • I typed in my Mother's address. She lives 40 miles outside of Dallas, and can only get 3G wireless from a couple of providers. Even then she rarely gets faster than 720 Kbps. It listed two "Fixed Wireless" providers with speeds up to 6 Mbps. I went to their web sites and typed in her address. They say, correctly, that she is outside their coverage area.
    • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 )

      This map is a joke. Wishful thinking at best. Qwest is shown in my neighborhood as providing 3-6Mbps down. Go to their site and type in the exact same address that I did and you'll find they offer up to 768Kbps down. My wireless broadband carrier is showing the same thing (3-6Mbps). Yet they only offer up to 2.5Mbps in my neighborhood, and you'll only get 500kbps during prime time (making Netflix unwatchable).

      Here's why the map is really a joke. It asks for feedback -- "crowd-sourcing" they say. Howe

      • It seems they do not want all of the facts, just some of them.

        you find this unusual for something run by the government?

  • According to this map, I have access to fiber to the end user? From Who?


  • From TFA: Some llegislation provided $350 million for the creation of a national broadband inventory map. 293 went to states for data collection. 20ish went to contractors to build The fucking map. Somehow somebody extrapolates this into a 200 mil price tag. Who said pork was dead?
  • The map is not accurate. It says I have access to fiber (presumably FIOS), which I don't. It also claims I don't have access to Docsis 3 cable service, which I do.
    And don't get me started on how spectacularly crappy it works on Safari and Firefox.

  • I looked at its (rather small) maps for a few areas, but couldn't figure out how it was telling me about broadband coverage. The maps look normal, with big white and green zones that don't seem to correlate with anything I know about the territory. There are a few brown areas scattered around the map. Nowhere can I find anything saying what the colors might mean.

    At the left, there are some bar graphs labelled with various kinds of Net access, but no obvious way to relate them to the maps. Poking arou

  • Here's what I get when I type in my ZIP code:

    The area you have selected does not contain a complete broadband record set. The system will only display available data (if any).

    And it shows a tiny little area of my town with some actual data. I think it's a new development.

    With $200M they could have instead sent out postcards to a statistically representative sample of the population, licensed the technology, and had people pop in a unique code.

    Kudos on the OpenStreetMap usage, though.

  • Yes. Roasted, with an apple shoved in my mouth. To the sole broadband provider in my neighborhood.
  • There was $350M put aside for this map in the 2009 ARRA bill, and despite spending a bit more than $1/citizen, not one American will enjoy a faster internet connection because of the expenditure.

    Bravo! A victory for style over substance! Why spend money to provide broadband connectivity when you can instead create a website for those folks with broadband connections to play the age-old game of comparing to who's got the faster connection speed!

  • You know; the one that shows where US consumers have a choice between two or more equivalent broadband services? Perhaps I missed it, given that such a map could be rendered with around fifty pixels.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun