President Bush’s goal of universal broadband access for all Americans by 2007 appears to be overly optimistic, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The GAO study found that only 28% of Americans had broadband in 2005.
US broadband penetration jumped 1.39 percentage points in March 2006 to 69.39% among active Internet users. Broadband penetration should easily break 70% by April 2006. Over the past year, the broadband gap between Canada and the US has narrowed from 20 percentage points to 6.6 percentage points. Since last March, US broadband penetration rose 12.4 percentage points while Canadian broadband penetration was flat.
Podcasting is taking off, according to recent data from Nielsen//NetRatings and Apple. Unique users of Apple’s iTunes player passed QuickTime in mid-2005, and at current growth rates iTunes should pass RealPlayer by mid-2006. People are tuning in over twice as long with iTunes than with RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. US broadband penetration jumped 1.33 percentage points in February 2006 to 68% among active Internet users. At current growth rates broadband penetration should break 70% in April of 2006.
Streaming media is hot, but servers and users are even hotter. As higher bandwidth content streams to more bandwidth-hungry users quality of service can suffer. Some industry experts are wondering if the existing infrastructure can scale to handle the load. Meanwhile, the rural-urban broadband gap is closing according to PEW Internet. The US continued its inexorable climb to 66.67% in broadband penetration among active Internet users in January 2006.
At its current growth rate of over 90% per year, China will pass the US in total broadband subscribers by late 2006 to become the largest broadband country in the world. The US has fallen to 19th overall in household broadband penetration, and is in danger of being passed by Slovenia in early 2007. Israel leads all Middle Eastern and African countries, and is the third country overall in broadband penetration. Hong Kong leads the Pacific Rim, with a broadband penetration rate of over 73%. Meanwhile, in December 2005 the US passed 65% in broadband penetration among active Internet users.