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Internet Connectivity Grows, but Many Still Lack Access

The availability of high-speed Internet access continues to grow. Still, about 40 percent of Americans do not have broadband at home.

Woman using a computer
Woman using a computer

That comes from new Commerce Department statistics that underscore the challenges facing policymakers trying to bring affordable high-speed Internet connections to all Americans.

The Commerce and Agriculture departments are handing out $7.2 billion in stimulus funding for broadband. Also, next month the Federal Communications Commission is due to deliver a broadband plan to Congress.

Lack of broadband availability is just one challenge for Washington, because even in places where broadband is available, not everyone subscribes. Thirty-eight percent of households without broadband say they don't need it or want it.

Meanwhile, the nation's top telecommunications regulator says he wants 100 million U.S. households to have access to have ultra-high-speed Internet connections by 2020.

Speaking in Washington on Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said those connections should be 100 megabits per second, several times faster than most home connections now. He also wants the U.S. to establish testbed networks to experiment with even higher broadband speeds.

Both proposals will be part of a national broadband plan that the FCC will deliver to Congress next month. The plan was mandated by last year's economic stimulus bill.