Friday, February 18, 2011

Mapping broadband access

The New York Times carries a story this morning about how limited access to broadband is in wide areas of the rural US -- a situation not unlike the slow spread of wired electricity to rural areas in the early part of the last century. (Re-read the second volume of Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson biography, The Path to Power, to get a sense of just how critical this issue was to the lives of East Texans and to Johnson's career.)

The Times article contains graphics from the National Broadband Map, launched yesterday and available here, displaying where broadband Internet service is available, which technologies are used to provide the service, maximum advertised speeds, and providers. You can look at the country as a whole, or zoom in on your block (why does fiber optic cable end a few blocks from me?). You can also run analyses comparing broadband availability down to the level of metropolitan statistical areas or census-designated places,  and learn more about different broadband technologies. It's clear, extremely interesting, fun to play with and will be useful for grant makers and application writers.

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