Monday, February 16, 2009

NPR story on U.S. broadband access illustrates major flaw in media coverage of issue

NPR's Morning Edition has a story out this AM on the $7.2 billion set aside for grants to subsidize broadband telecommunications infrastructure that Congress sent to President Barack Obama. Unfortunately this NPR story like others in the mainstream media paint the U.S. broadband landscape with far too wide a brush and reinforce the myth that lack of broadband access is confined to rural areas.

Due to the technological limitations of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) over copper cable offered by telcos and the limited footprints of single purpose cable company plants built decades ago solely to provide TV, broadband black holes can be found most anywhere in the United States: in urban centers, suburbs, exurbs, quasi-rural as well as rural areas.

Homes and small businesses in one part of these areas may have access to broadband while those adjacent and just one or two miles away -- and oftentimes in even closer proximity -- don't. As noted by this blog recently, the Google search phrase that brings the largest number of hits and visitors to it goes along the lines of "My neighbor can can high speed Internet access but I can't/why not?"

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