February 26, 2006 1:00 PM PST

Internet life speeding up in small-town America

Rural Americans are getting in the fast lane to the Internet more and more, but they still trail their city-dwelling counterparts by a sizable gap, according to new data.

Around 24 percent of rural Americans were using high-speed connections to the Internet in their homes by the end of 2005, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported Sunday. This is an improvement over the 16 percent of rural Americans with broadband connections in 2004, but below the 39 percent of urban and suburban Americans using high-speed connections at home in 2005, said John Horrigan, associate director for research at the Pew Internet Project.

The study used the Census Bureau's definition of rural, suburban and urban as the basis for the categories.

The gap in total Internet usage between rural areas and urban ones decreased in 2005 to just 8 percentage points, while the separation was 11 points last year. Rural areas tend to lag urban ones in Internet usage because there is a larger percentage of Americans over the age of 50 and incomes tend to be lower in rural areas, Horrigan said.

When it comes to broadband, the biggest problem hindering rural users is often availability. Cable and DSL (digital subscriber line) providers are hesitant to invest in the infrastructure for rural broadband, Horrigan said.

"Even if there are people with a big interest in the Internet and the means to pay for it, there are so few of them that it's hard to justify the investment," he said.

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Broadband TVA
How about a program for broadband internet that mirrors the Tennessee Valley Authority that brought electricity to rural America in the 1930's?

Having broadband web access available in areas of low population density would make those places more desireable for out-migration from our big cities to what has been called "exurbia".
Posted by tomfool (2 comments )
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NPR article
Some small steps in this direction are already happening, such as the network in West Virginia recently covered by NPR (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5053488" target="_newWindow">http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5053488</a>).
Posted by finleyd (21 comments )
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Good-bye city life!
This article puts me in the mood for reruns of "Green Acres."
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
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My li'l ol DSL arrived
I moved from a metropolitan to a rural area just as they were getting DSL IN 1999. After a 6 year wait I finally got DSL here 3M/768K.

I'm so danged happy I think possum stew is in order!
Posted by kplay (1 comment )
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Broadband Access
I agree with another post for the TN area. I lived in Daytona Beach,FL all my life and used cable Broadband for many years. Now that I moved to TN I am restricted to dial-up again. With no broadband service available or planned by Bellsouth or the local cable companies ( Cable TV service is also not available )I am going to have to move again in order to get it.
Broadband ceased being a luxury years ago, and the providers need to realize this.
Thank You
Posted by djensen552 (3 comments )
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The Same Boat
I have thought of moving too but really like not having any neighbors within spitting distance.
I live outside of town. About 3 1/2 miles. DSL and Cable is in town. I just wonder what they mean when they say Rural? It's more than likely the suburbs. I keep hoping but broadband is just out of reach.
Posted by domcelyea (14 comments )
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Satellite internet
Before taking the drastic move of moving your household so you can get high speed internet, check to see if Wildblue is available where you live. I'm in the same boat, too far out to get DSL or cable. I signed up for the value pack which is around $50 a month and get around 500Kbps down and 128Kbps up. Not as cheap as DSL, but the only viable option available for me.
Posted by countrylivinginmissouri (1 comment )
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Do Not Use DIRECWAY - stick to Dial-up
I had DIRECWAY for 15 months in my rural area before DSL is finally available!

In my experiences it is an illusion that you are getting broadband with the DirecWay system. It is a very expensive way to get a slow and unreliable system. At least dial-up is slow but cheap and reliable!

Although File Transfer was generally good for me surfing was at less than dial-up speeds. The system was also completely unreliable being "down" for over one month in total and sporadically "degraded" or "problem (no service)" most of the rest of the time.

Check out <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.direcwayreallysucks.net/" target="_newWindow">http://www.direcwayreallysucks.net/</a>
for other experiences with this non system.
Posted by UKOH (1 comment )
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SWANsat to Turn Earth into Wi-Fi Hotspot
I notice all this talk about speeding up the internet ... well, imagine a series of at least three geosynchronous orbital satellites providing wireless Internet access to the entire world. Thats exactly what a project called SWANsat or Super-Wide Area Network Satellite plans to do by the year 2011. They intend to be a global broadband Internet service provider that can facilitate up to 600 million connections per satellite. All you need is a handheld mobile device to connect to the system.
Read more: HYPERLINK "http://www.gizmocafe.com/blogs/gizmo_waydes_blog/archive/2006/08/21/96546.aspx

IOSTAR, SANDIA LABS, ORBITAL. The pioneers of GPS &#38; Teledesic  together with directors such as 4 Star General Tony McPeak &#38; former secretary of US Air Force (Roche) and former Branch Chief of guided missiles &#38; CEO of Western Digital  are coming together for intriguing development called SWANsat.

The Teledesic Chief Architect (now President of IOSTAR) recently made this presentation:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://csmarts.colorado.edu/presentationpages/34_future_of_space/page_01.htm" target="_newWindow">http://csmarts.colorado.edu/presentationpages/34_future_of_space/page_01.htm</a> (intro-nav page)
Posted by swansat_kaching (20 comments )
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