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As many as one in 10 Americans can’t get Internet connections that are fast enough for common online activities such as watching video or teleconferencing, and two thirds of schools have broadband connections that are too slow to meet their needs.

Those are some of the conclusions from the Commerce Department as it unveiled a detailed, interactive online map showing what types of high-speed Internet connections are available — or missing — in every last corner of the country.

The national broadband map, which was mandated by the 2009 economic stimulus bill, went live last week at http://www.broadbandmap.gov with both lofty aspirations and utilitarian goals. Government officials hope the map will help guide policymakers, researchers, public interest groups and telecommunications companies as they seek to bridge the digital divide in even the most remote reaches of the U.S. They also hope the map will serve as a valuable tool for consumers who just want to find out what local broadband options are available where they live. Read the rest of this entry »

Puerto Rico received $26 million from the Commerce Department to develop access to broadband service on the Caribbean island, the U.S. territory with the slowest Internet connections.

Carlo Marazzi, whose company, Critical Hub Networks, Inc., was awarded the contract to undertake the project in Puerto Rico, will help the island reduce the gap in broadband access.

Marazzi took advantage of the presentation of the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative project in San Juan to emphasize that it was not acceptable for the U.S. commonwealth to have broadband Internet service that is 78 percent slower than the U.S. national average.

The company chief noted that currently in Puerto Rico only 31 percent of the public has Internet access via broadband service. Read the rest of this entry »

by Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

January 17th, 2011 could be a big day for the island of Puerto Rico.  That day is the anticipated start date of the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative (PRBI), which will set up a fiber optic “bridge” network from Florida to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  The project was funded by the Recovery Act (Stimulus Bill) at a cost of $25.7 million through the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Critical Hub, the company awarded the contract, contributed another $6.8 million to the project.

The goal is to fund fast and affordable broadband to the island.  A secondary goal of the project is to provide Puerto Rico with a “stimulus” to their economy in the information technology sector.  The island ranks last in the United States for broadband penetration and use, and the statistics found on the issue show less than 40% subscription rates.  Additionally, the current broadband infrastructure on the island is much slower (78%) and more expensive (60%) than elsewhere in the US.  This project should boost the economic potential for Puerto Rico, given that it will allow for greater job creation, allow for more educational and e-learning opportunities, and raise the islands competitiveness for attracting more firms. Read the rest of this entry »

by Juan Pablo Giometti:

Broadband is a medium that business owners are using to enhance productivity, expand markets, and attract new customers. This tool is of particular value to Hispanics, who are increasingly using it to launch small businesses and pursue other economic activities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minority-owned firms are growing four times faster than all U.S. firms and accounted for over half of the two million businesses started in the U.S. in the past decade. These trends are incredible and a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit inherent in all Hispanics. Equally as important, these new ventures are critical sources of new jobs. Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employers in the United States, employing half of the American labor force, and have produced between 60 and 80 percent of net new jobs in the economy over the past decade. Read the rest of this entry »

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