View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 26, 2000

                             April 26, 2000

BROADBAND IS THE NEXT STAGE IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE INTERNET: Today, most Americans access the Internet over an ordinary phone line, and often experience the "World Wide Wait." A wide range of telecommunications companies are beginning to provide high-speed Internet access to homes and small businesses that is 10 to 100 times faster than today's Internet -- using technologies such as cable modems, Digital Subscriber Line (a technology that uses existing phone lines), wireless, satellite, and fiber optics. At higher speeds, the Internet can rapidly transmit a digitized X-ray, allow a student to tour a museum located halfway around the world, enable someone with a disability to work from home, or allow a geographically distributed team of engineers to collaborate in the development of a new product.

BROADBAND IS CRITICAL FOR RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: In the 19th and 20th century, railroads, electricity, bridges and roads were critical to economic development and job creation. Today, affordable high-speed Internet access is a key element of a region's economic infrastructure. Rural businesses need broadband Internet access to:

Allow their employees to upgrade skills using distance learning;

Communicate electronically with their customers and suppliers -- cutting costs, increasing productivity, and reducing inventories; and

Participate in the rapidly growing "business-to-business" electronic marketplace, which could grow to $7.3 trillion by the year 2004 (Source: Gartner Group, January 26, 2000).

Without affordable broadband Internet access, existing rural businesses will be denied the opportunity to participate in the digital economy. Rural communities will also find it more difficult to attract new businesses, since the availability of an advanced telecommunications infrastructure will become an increasingly important factor in site selection.

RURAL COMMUNITIES ARE IN DANGER OF BEING LEFT BEHIND IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY : A new report released today by the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture concludes that rural areas are lagging behind urban areas in the availability of broadband.

While more than 56 percent of all cities with populations exceeding 100,000 had DSL available from Regional Bell Operating Companies, less than 5 percent of cities with populations less than 10,000 had such service (Advanced Telecommunications In Rural America, Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture, April 2000).

While more than 65 percent of cities with populations over 250,000 have cable modem service, less than 5 percent of towns of 10,000 or less have this service (Advanced Telecommunications In Rural America, Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture, April 2000).

A number of the existing broadband technologies have limitations that prevent them from being deployed in rural areas. For example, DSL can only be offered if customers are within 3 1/2 miles of the "central office" of the telecommunications company. [A central office is where a telecommunications company locates the equipment needed to provide services.] (Advanced Telecommunications In Rural America, Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture, April 2000).

Deployment of broadband is slower in rural areas because of the lower density of customers. For many broadband technologies, the cost to serve a given customer increases with the distance between customers.