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America's broadband report card is in -- we did not make the honor roll

A Linksys router is displayed at the T-Mobile booth at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 8, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Each year, the FCC issues a report (PDF) to Congress about progress in the ongoing effort to get more Americans hooked up to a fast reliable Internet connection. The FCC's latest report indicates that America is falling well short of its goals. We talk to Zach Katz, an advisor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, about what can be learned from the latest data and what a lack of broadband means in today's society.

"If you don't have broadband today," he says, "you can't access lesson plans for many schools. health care info. It's difficult to find jobs and apply for jobs. Listings, more and more, are exclusively online. So whereas not having broadband a few years ago might have been an inconvenience, not having it today is much more problematic for a lot of Americans."

The lowest numbers of broadband use are in rural areas. Katz says that it gets expensive to wire up a rural area to broadband access and companies are reluctant to make that investment if there aren't going to be many customers paying a monthly bill.

Tim Marema from the Center for Rural Strategies says even when a rural area is wired, many of the people it's meant to serve don't want to bother. It's hard for them to justify paying a hundred bucks a month for a signal that might be really lousy, says Marema.

Also in this program, a breakthrough in the study of sleep disorders has arrived in the form of... a shirt.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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I live in what would be considered a "rural" area. The service we have is with Internet America, which is a Line-of-Sight Internet. The service is sometimes spotty. The reason we are provided for the spotty service is that either trees are impeding the signal or too many customers are using the same source at that time. It gets frustrating sometimes but that is life in the "Country". The best advice I can provide is multifaceted: 1) Move out to another area or to the city. 2)Shut-up and find another service provider which meets your needs. Lastly, 3)Get a internet through your phone and use that when you need it at home. Personally, I like living in the country. I continually look for ISPs that will meet my needs. I see that as the only option for those that love it here and are fed up with the status quo. Living in the country makes you resilient. I mean you use what you can and make the best of it.

We live in a rural area. Most of the people here are retirees who chose the area. Most of them own computers and most can't get broadband internet at any price. Yes there are those who don't know what to do with a computer. However, the local library is overflowing with patrons who go there strictly for high speed internet.

You know your're in trouble when ATT recommends that you use Hughes Net. Imagine a company turning down higher monthly billings. They just don't care. They have written off rural communities.

You did not mention the fact that many rural families do not own a computer. If they do, they cannot afford the access. It is a serious problem for the job seeker. I see them in the public library I run in a rural area.

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