Clinton: Digital dividegrowing


Telecommunications companies are rolling out broadband services much faster in urban markets than in rural, according to a report the Clinton administration released last week.

"[B]roadband over cable has been deployed in more than 65% of all cities with populations over 250,000, broadband over the telephone network has been deployed in 56% of all cities with populations over 100,000, while less than 5% of towns of 10,000 or less have access to either technology," the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) stated.

Companies say they are rolling out new services first in more populated areas so that revenue from those services can help fund new operations in less populated areas.

To quickly provide advanced services in rural areas, NTIA and RUS recommend "the continued support and expansion of those government programs, such as the E-rate program, that ensure access to new technologies including broadband services. We also urge the FCC to consider a definition of universal service and new funding mechanisms to ensure that residents in rural areas have access to telecommunications and information services" comparable to those of city dwellers.