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Broadband connects the dots in telecom

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By Sherry Robinson

It’s another one of those lists with New Mexico bringing up the rear. The subject is broadband access.

New Mexico ranks 46th nationally in Internet use and 36th in broadband (high-speed Internet) telecommunications, according to the U. S. Department of Commerce. About 78 percent of New Mexicans have DSL, compared with 82 percent nationally; 77 percent have access to cable modem, compared with 96 percent nationally.

This isn’t just the stuff of computer geeks. When potential outside employers look us over, they want to know about “connectivity,” and our economic developers usually have to change the subject.

Also, broadband holds the key to work-at-home jobs and home-based businesses that could do wonders for small towns.

It seems like New Mexico has always been behind the curve in telecom access, whatever the technology. It’s the old problem of great distances, small population and money, and it’s particularly acute in rural areas.

Lately, a new test by the Federal Communications Commission shows New Mexico among the nation’s worst in download speeds. We can’t even say, Thank God for Mississippi this time. The labs, the universities and portions of Albuquerque are competitive; the rest of the state isn’t. In upload speeds we look a little better.


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