Earlier this month, The Daily Yonder, a well-named site about life in rural America, brought us this unsettling map of broadband availability, or lack thereof, in the country's remote counties:
Truth is, the connectivity of U.S. cities is nothing to brag about either. A 2012 report from the New America Foundation found that residents of major American cities pay more money for slower Internet service than their counterparts in major cities around the world. Case in point: in Hong Kong, roughly $35 gets you access to a fiber-optics network with 500 Mbps download speed; in New York or Washington, it gets you a cable network at 25 Mbps.
The point is that broadband service in the United States is neither what it could be nor what it should be. Yes, the vast majority of Americans have access to very basic Internet service, but here the devil's in the details. Too many rural residents lack even minimal access; too many big cities lack the competition that would create world-class service; and for whatever reason — be it access, cost, quality, or something else — 100 million Americans don't subscribe to broadband service at all.