FRAMINGHAM 17 FEBRUARY 2011 - Now that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has launched its National Broadband Map, it's time to comb through the data to see what we can learn about broadband in the United States.
After exploring the site for a few hours, I came away with the following six factoids about broadband in America that I found particularly intriguing. The map and the data used to create it were funded by the economic stimulus package passed in early 2009. In all, creating and updating the map is slated to cost $220 million over a five-year period and the map is due to be updated two times a year.
So with that out of the way, here are six interesting things I learned from the National Broadband Map:
One: There is a large gap between connection speeds for small businesses and for medium and large businesses. Although you'd expect larger companies to have access to faster web services, the gap between small businesses and medium-to-large businesses is still striking. According to the broadband map, small businesses have a median download speed of 3.9Mbps versus an average download speed of 8.6Mbps for medium-the-large businesses. What's more, the highest download speed recorded for a small business was 9.6Mbps, which is only 1Mbps more than the median download speed for medium-to-big businesses.
Two: A dearth of broadband providers in the Northeast. Those of us who live in New England may pride ourselves in having some of the fastest connection speeds in the country, but we don't do so well when it comes to the number of in-state providers. The map's data show that none of the six New England states have more than 20 providers that offer advertised download speeds of more than 3Mbps. Connecticut, which has exactly 20 different providers offering speeds of 3Mbps or more, has the most providers in the region, while New Hampshire ranks last, with just 11 providers offering speeds of 3Mbps or higher. The state with the most broadband providers is Iowa (114 providers offering 3Mbps downloads) while Indiana and Hawaii are tied for the fewest number of broadband providers with three each.
Three: DSL is still the most available wireline technology. Yes, we hear a lot about fiber-to-the-home buildouts, but DSL is still alive and kicking as the broadband technology most widely available across the United States. DSL may not be as fast as cable connections, but roughly 87% of the population in the United States has access to it, while 82% of the U.S. has access to cable. Not many technologies come close to DSL and cable as far as availability goes, as fiber-to-the-home is only available for around 14% of the population.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.