Ten months after issuing a report stating that broadband was not being deployed in the U.S. in a timely manner, the Federal Communications Commission has issued another report with the same finding.
It is difficult to compare this year’s report, known as the “Seventh Broadband Progress Report” to last year’s, however, because this year’s report was based primarily on information gathered as part of the process of creating the interactive National Broadband Map. Previous reports have been based primarily on information that service providers are required to file twice yearly with the FCC.
This year, as last, the FCC defined broadband as a service supporting 4 Mb/s download speeds and 1 Mb/s upload speeds—but again, as last year, the data gathered did not use 4 Mb/s as a cutoff point. Accordingly, the default definition of broadband was 3 Mb/s downstream and 768 kb/s upstream.
Using this definition, the FCC found that approximately 26.2 million Americans living in more than 9.2 million households do not have broadband available to them. The majority of these unserved households are in rural areas, the report said. Those numbers are on the high side of what the FCC found last year using the service provider data, when the commission said between 14 million and 24 million Americans did not have access to broadband.
“Without action by the FCC in partnership with the states and the private sector, prospects for broadband service in many of the areas cited in the report will remain unacceptably low,” the FCC said in an announcement of the report findings.
Prior to 2010, the FCC issued a string of annual broadband progress reports stating that broadband was being deployed in a timely and reasonable manner. But those reports used a different definition of broadband, including services supporting speeds of at least 768 kb/s symmetrically as broadband services.
This year’s report also found that about one-third of Americans who have broadband available to them do not subscribe to the service—a finding that matches what the FCC has found in other research.