broadbandWith large corporations like Comcast, Charter and AT&T dominating the market, at least 49.7 million Americans have only a single internet provider available to them, according to a new broadband monopoly report from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, an advocacy group for local community economic development.

Comcast and Charter are the only choices for more than 47 million people in the U.S., while the “competitive choice” for another 33 million people is slower, less reliable DSL service, ILSR says in its latest report.

“Nationally, cable companies maintain monopolies on high-speed Internet access,” the report authors note. “The large telecommunication companies, such as AT&T and Verizon, invest mainly where they face cable competition.”

Broadband Monopoly Report
The authors dispute federal data suggesting that Charter and Comcast have an absolute monopoly over fewer households. “We think this is mostly a mirage resulting from how the FCC reports data,” the authors wrote. “A significant number of the census blocks showing new competition are likely only partially served.”

Source: ILSR

ILSR used FCC Form 477 data (June 2019 v1), as the primary source for the data of the report. ISPs self-report their coverage data to the FCC down to the census block level. ILSR believes this data grossly overestimates broadband availability because a census block is counted as having broadband even if only one location in that census block has service.

According to the data, rural areas get little service other than DSL from the largest providers, despite billions of dollars from state and federal programs, including the Connect America Fund (CAF) program, which ILSR calls “a failure.”

This isn’t the first time ILSR has blasted what it calls lack of competition for broadband and the failure of the CAF programs, as Telecompetitor reported. A key element of ILSR’s critique of the CAF program is that the program — which pertained to the the nation’s largest price cap carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier – only required the providers to deliver service supporting speeds of 10/1 Mbps to meet buildout obligations, even though that is below what many people — including the FCC — now consider broadband.

Image courtesy of flickr user Sean MacEntee.

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3 thoughts on “Broadband Monopoly Report: At Least 49.7 Million Americans Served by Only One Provider

  1. In Kansas City there is Google Fiber, ATT Gigapower, CCI/Surewest as well. Spectrum covers about 2/3 of metro and Comcast covers about 1/3 of metro, not much overlap. It’s not just Google Fiber vs Spectrum as image claims.

  2. It's a foolish argument to blame the cable providers for lack of coverage, and lack of competition. They are "for profit" companies, and will build to those doors where it makes fiscal sense. They are not utility companies. The argument should be directed to push the competing companies (Google, Fios, etc.) to build out and expand their networks. That's the only way to actually provide competitive options for the consumer.

  3. Comcast has a monopoly in my area of michigan. They just raised the price from $70. Month to $189. They refuse to send a real bill, or to identify specific charges or to even tell me the discounted affordable care act amount. I am also suppose to get a veteran discount. But they can’t tell me how much that is either. That is horrific to say the least. No other option. DSL is not available and fiber optics are not here. We have been promised fiber optics since 2009. Still not here. That has to be illegal. I just got the affordable care act internet help this month, but the price went up over $100. I have been told a different price from every customer service person I talk to. This last price is the craziest. I will lose my internet and no way to communicate or to get information. I know that in a very ritzy area of Florida, near Destin, the unlimited internet is only $30 a month. They have competition and several internet companies to choose from. Monopolies are wrong when they can gouge the customers that can least afford it.

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