Monday, October 21, 2013

35 million in U.S. don't use Internet, and many who do have trouble getting broadband in rural areas

In the United States 35 million adults (15 percent of the total) don't use the Internet, and 20 percent of those people are from rural areas, though rural areas have only 16 percent of the total population, according to a study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Why don't these people use the Internet? Some may think that it isn't relevant to them, it's too difficult to use, or it's too expensive. Many people simply do not have access to it, Keith Darnay reports for The Bismarck Tribune.

Ben Bajarin, director of consumer technology at Creative Strategies Inc., lives in what he calls "the last mile." He and his wife live just south of San Jose, Calif., and Silicon Valley, but don't have access to decent broadband. "I am part of the 30 percent of Americans who don't have real broadband access at home," he writes for Time Tech. He gets 3 to 5 megabits per second (Mbps) and pays more than $100 per month for it. "It's not true broadband, but it's the best I can get," he writes.

Bajarin gets 50-60 Mbps at work, so he knows what good broadband is like. "Internet access is often taken for granted. When you don't have the same access, you quickly realize how valuable it is." The solution to the problem is wireless technology, but we're six or seven years from the next evolution of wireless broadband, "and we're even further from the next evolution being widely adopted," he writes.

Bajarin sees value in working to provide broadband (or faster broadband) for as many people as possible—in rural areas, throughout America and around the world. "I live in the last mile, and it's a challenge for me, given my line of work. But the important thing to remember is that there are still billions of people who have no access at all."

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