If you watch television, or movies for that matter, you’d think everyone in the country has high-speed Internet access; that everyone can get online and watch YouTube videos, or movies from Netflix or Hulu, or repeat episodes of their favorite shows, or even update their Facebook page. Nope, the sad fact is, at least according to USA Today, (see references below) almost half the people that live in rural parts of the country cannot get broadband Internet access, no matter how much or little they may want it. That’s because it costs a lot more per household. Think of it this way, if you lay a fiber optic cable to a suburb of New York, you’re laying the groundwork for possibly several hundred thousand people, which means the cost of laying that cable can be quickly paid for by the people in that suburb that will get online and start cruising the Internet at high speed. If you lay that same fiber optic cable to one small town, where there are only perhaps a couple thousand people, it’s going to take years to recoup that cost.
The net result has been a weak response to calls for high spend Internet access from people how live in these urban areas.
Enter the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known more popularly as Stimulus Funds. The whole idea behind dishing out stimulus funds was that money would be put into projects that would stimulate the economy. President Obama has said on many occasions that he believes that one of the best ways to stimulate the economy is by improving the nation’s infrastructure so that it’s easier and cheaper for companies in this country to do business. Recently, he’s said that the nation’s infrastructure should now include high speed Internet access for everyone, not just those who happen to live in or near a big city.
To make good on his word, he has directed that stimulus funds be made available to rural Internet service providers to lay lines to far flung areas, giving them high speed Internet access for the first time.
As an example, due to stimulus funds, Texas now leads the nation in high speed Internet access for its citizens; it has 96% coverage, a rate that rivals other countries with large dense populations, such as Japan and Korea.
Broadband Internet access is generally meant to include DSL, as well as cable and fiber and thus, fast enough to handle most anything the average user would encounter when cruising the web.