Based upon newly released data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Daily Yonder blog reports on the continuing divide between rural and urban communities access to broadband.

According to the article,

The first shows the percentage of census tracts with only one broadband provider. In urban areas, only 2.2% of census tracts had a single broadband provider.  As the communities grew more rural, however, the percentage of tracts with only one provider grew. In rural America, nearly one in four census tracts had only one broadband provider.

The same stair-step pattern can be seen with download speeds. In urban areas, less than 4% of census tracts had broadband download speeds of under 6 megabits per second. That rose steadily as the tracts grew more rural until, in the most rural areas, 17.2% of the communities had these slow download speeds.

And those were advertised download speeds. Some researchers believe that real download speeds in rural America are far slower than those advertised.

What the data tells us is that the broadband divide is much more than just who has a connection and who doesn’t. In fact, the rural-urban gap is much wider in terms of choice of providers and speed than it is for a simple connection.

Considering that Alabama is 49th in the United States in internet connectivity and 23 percent of people in the state who access the Internet [are] using antiquated dial-up services, we know these statistics to not only be true but probably exacerbated.

As I discussed here:

Good news: Average US broadband speed has now reached 4.7 Mbps, up from 3.9 Mbps last year, according to Akamai’s first quarter report.

Bad news: the rest of the world is nearing Gigabit speed according to this article. That is over 200 times faster than the US average.

In fact, Korea is on par to have universal Gigabit speed by 2012, according to this report.

Every home in Korea will have Gigabit speed, whereas we do not even have universal access to sub-par Mbps. There is no incentive for improvement where no competition exists in 25% of our rural communities. Our telecommunications policies are failing rural America.