No Internet? No Problem. Well, Maybe a Small Almost Insignificant Hurdle

June 11, 2021

The Internet is an essential tool for modern life, but not everyone in the United States has ready access to broadband services. The US is one of the world’s most developed countries, so how many of its citizens cannot get online? In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), estimated that 14.5 million Americans lacked Internet access, however, that number is no where near the truth.

The Daily Dot investigates the real amount in the article: “New Study Shows Digital Divide Is Much Worse Than The Government Says It Is.” BroadbandNow released a report that stated 42 million Americans were unable to access broadband services. The digital divide was a huge concern during the COVID pandemic as remote workers and students were forced to work in fast food parking lots and other locations with free Wi-Fi. BroadbandNow calculated 42 million by:

“BroadbandNow manually checked more than 58,000 addresses using “check availability” tools from 11 large internet service providers (ISPs) to see whether wired or fixed wireless service was available. The addresses were from areas that at least one of those 11 ISPs offered service according to a form the FCC has where ISPs self-report whether broadband is being served

That form, Form 477, has been criticized in the past because if an ISP offers service to just one home in a Census block, the FCC counts that entire area as having access from that provider. That is an issue because many Census blocks can be enormous, and counting one person as having access as serving an entire area leads to over-reporting of availability.”

The report also discovered that all types of Internet sources were over reported on broadband maps. The maps used to determine broadband access are known to contain errors. The FCC plans to design a new system to more accurately measure broadband needs in the US.

Congress passed the “Broadband DATA Act” in March 2020 and funds for broadband mapping were included in a COVID relief bill. Despite the need for Internet services, Congress continues to argue and waste taxpayer money over the last administration.

Whitney Grace, June 11, 2021

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