Universal Access and Local Commercial Internet Markets
Concern over the potential need to redefine universal service to account for Internet-related services and other combinations of communication and computing motivates this study of the geographic spread of commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the leading suppliers of Internet access in the United States. The paper characterizes the location of 40,000 access points, local phone numbers offered by commercial ISPs, in the Fall of 1997. Markets differ widely in their structure, from competitive to unserved. Over ninety-two percent of the U.S. population has easy access to a competitive commercial Internet access market, while approximately four and one-half percent of the U.S. population has costly access. Urban/rural coverage must be understood in the context of the different strategies of national/local providers.
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