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Living the American Dream Without Broadband

ClickZ reports that several 'factors,' including geography and population density, account for the 71 percent of American households that either dial-up or don't access the Web from home. A telecommunications report to congressional committees from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) details barriers to high-speed Internet adoption.

Twenty-eight percent of American households subscribed to broadband service in 2005, about 30 million homes. Of the remaining 71 percent of households, 30 percent subscribe to dial-up Internet service, and 41 percent have no home access. Among broadband subscribers, distribution between cable modem and DSL was almost evenly split. DSL is less likely to serve rural residents; service is only available within a three-mile radius of a central office.

Certain household factors make residents more or less likely to subscribe to broadband services. Households with high incomes are 39 percent more likely to subscribe to broadband than lower-income households. College-educated heads of households are 12 percent more likely to adopt broadband than households headed by someone without a college degree.

While price remains a barrier to adoption, the cost of broadband services has declined over time. Tax is a barrier to subscribing when it equals 10 percent, however when tax amounts to only 5 percent of the rate it doesn't affect subscription rates among rural residents and lower-income households.

Broadband providers are available for all but 1 percent of the country's population. Ninety-nine percent of Americans live in 95 percent of the Zip Codes that have at least one ISP offering broadband access.

While it appears service providers continue to build out infrastructure for broadband access, some say that geography and population density deter U.S. providers from further deployment. Regardless, that apparently hasn't stopped Canada from becoming a broadband leader. Canadian policymakers didn't let a few 'factors' turn into excuses for inaction.

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