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Slow Broadband for Low Income, Map Doesn’t Tell Full Story

The federal broadband map is a start at showing broad gaps in coverage, but is far from telling the story of real speed, cost, actual service availability and upload capacity. A study published by the The Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communications raises a significant issues of "Do Low-Income Households Get Slow Broadband by Design?"

The FCC recently released the first federal broadband map. It’s definitely worth taking a peek at, and is a valiant first try… But, and there are a lot of buts to this, it’s critical to look at what’s missing as much as what’s there.
The map includes presents reports on advertised speeds, not actual speeds. The speeds are download speeds, and don’t reflect the upload speeds that govern how fast you can post content, send data or provide online services. The map provides a useful broad brush of coverage, but doesn’t ensure that the service is fully available in a given area. Lastly, there is nothing about cost of services.

The cost and speed combination are a critical issue for low income families trying to keep up with growing digital expectations (“Just send it to me, because of course you have hi speed Internet at home…”). A new report that looks a little deeper found that low income urban neighborhoods and rural areas pay more for the service they get than wealthy suburbs. See an article in the New Republic, “Do Low-Income Households Get Slow Broadband by Design?” by Benjamin Orr from the New Republic and the initial article, “Wealthy suburbs get best broadband deals; D.C., rural areas lag behind” by John Dunbar for
The Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communications.