U.S. Households: 90% Broadband Access, With A Goal Of 98%

Recently, President Barack Obama said that his goal was to eventually provide access to broadband Internet to 98% of America. He doesn't have too far to go based on numbers alone, but getting from 90% to 98% will probably prove tougher than anyone can imagine. This week, the FCC released a Broadband Heat Map of the U.S., a way of showing just how much of America has access to broadband speeds. The keyword is "access." Obviously, not everyone will want high-speed Internet. But having access is critical. Those who do not have access do not have a choice to make; they simply live with low-speed Internet or move altogether.

The map found that only 60% of homes in rural America use broadband Internet, which is 10% less than urban homes. All told, 28% of Americans don't use the Internet at all. Those are shocking numbers compared to high-use places such as South Korea, but America has a rural broadband initiative that's specifically designed at bringing rural America into the Internet economy. Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), made some interesting comments about the situation: "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. 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."

Overall, the two most commonly cited main reasons for not having broadband Internet access at home are that it is perceived as not needed (46 percent) or too expensive (25 percent). That's according to an NTIA statement, and it also pointed out that in rural America, lack of broadband availability is a larger reason for non-adoption than in urban areas (9.4 percent vs. one percent).

The President wants wireless, high-speed Internet coverage to 98% of America. That last 8% is going to require loads of work, tons of time and lots of money. But a country that's fully connection is a country that's massively productive, and we have a feeling that reaching 98% would mean lots of new jobs and a very different rural America. We're secretly hoping for 100%, but we always considered ourselves wishful thinkers.