Broadband Map

It seems our readings and discussion on the digital divide this week was really timely!  The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released the National Broadband Map this week, displaying the areas in the United States that have broad band infrastructure in place.  The New York Times has an article today about the map and broadband access in rural America.  “Digital Age is Slow to Arrive in Rural America” discusses the trouble faced by one community in accessing the Internet.  The cost of a satelite dish to get home internet is too expensive for the poor town of Coffeeville, Ala.  Even cell coverage is hard to find and expensive for residence.  The library offers Internet computers and wireless that people use in their cars even after the library has closed.  One woman keeps a list of emails that she needs to send when she has time to drive to her daughters to get on a computer.  The list of inconveniences can go on and on, which makes me realize how much I take for granted with access to Internet all the time!

When you visit the Broadband Map, it is obvious what a discrepancy there is across the nation.  The article discusses President Obama’s push for implementation of “digital expansion.”  There are a number of stimulus grants and broadband programs to help rural communities gain access, but when you see the map you realize how many communities are vying for that money.  It is no surprise that Coffeeville was unable to receive grant money when there is that much competition.

I feel like I’m in a state of shock with how little access is available within the United States.  I can’t even begin to imagine the cost of implementation across the board!  More and more information is only available online–newspapers and magazines are becoming obsolete, there aren’t going to be print options for people to have access to information.  The digital divide is only going to get larger and larger.  I might be focusing on the doom and gloom here.  At least the government is working on addressing this issue and building the necessary infrastructure.  But, like the one article we read said, once infrastructure is in place, there will need to be training and education on utilizing the tools the internet provides.  Access is the first step in a long process of digital literacy.  I hope it is better than it seems right now.

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About sheli223

My name is Sheli McHugh. I'm a librarian at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa. I enjoy coffee, reading, watching movies and skiing.