Forty percent of rural subscribers purchase broadband with download speeds of 25 Mbps, according to a survey conducted by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. That figure compares to 24% who reported that speed level in a 2016 NTCA rural broadband report.
“The NTCA 2018 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report” found almost 16% of respondents subscribe to services of 100 Mbps or greater and that 70% of respondents have access to 25 Mbps or higher speeds.
NTCA members are using a variety of technology platforms to deliver broadband, with FTTP-based platforms on the rise. Fifty-eight percent of customers served by survey respondents get broadband via FTTP, compared to 41% two years ago. Close to thirty percent (27.9%) get broadband via traditional DSL, while just over 10% receive broadband via FTTN. Just over 1% are using fixed wireless.
Almost one-quarter (23.4%) of respondents offer gigabit broadband, with 33.9% offering between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps. Survey respondents have an average of 4,455 residential and 530 business fixed broadband connections in service.
“Clearly NTCA members have made great strides in driving both deployment of scalable networks and stimulating adoption of broadband services in their communities,” NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield said in a press release. “In doing so, they have made significant contributions to the safety, health and well-being of their customers. Although much work remains to be done to advance and sustain broadband in rural America, NTCA members have yet again proven themselves to be leaders in rural broadband and trusted, committed providers for their communities.”
NTCA Rural Broadband Report Findings
Other results of the survey, which included input from 31% of NTCA members:
- Despite their significant progress, the challenges of network deployment and ongoing operations in rural areas still hinder smaller carriers’ efforts to deliver higher-speed broadband to many rural residents and businesses in high-cost rural markets. Regulatory and economic concerns were cited as primary challenges, with nearly 30% of survey respondents’ customers still lacking access to 25 Mbps broadband service. NTCA members provide critically important, higher-capacity broadband service to nearly all anchor institutions in their communities, including schools, hospitals, and public libraries.
- Video service is perceived as increasingly important to consumers, yet companies face significant barriers in offering it to their customers. Nearly all respondents pointed to programming costs as a barrier in providing this service; similarly, those considering discontinuing video service attributed this decision to increased programming costs.
- Thirty-one percent of NTCA members participated in the online survey in the spring of 2018. The survey included general questions about the respondents’ current operations, competition, marketing efforts and current and planned fiber deployment. The full report is available online.
USTelecom released numbers recently that seem to jive with those of NTCA. The organization found that as of last year 65% of rural areas had services of 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream. The group pointed out that 98% of non-rural areas have this level of service, which the FCC has adopted as the target for the Universal Service Fund.