While broadband is gaining traction in the country, there are still millions of American who lack high-speed Internet connection. In fact, according to Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) eighth Broadband Progress report, there are approximately 19 million Americans who still lack access. And extending this capability to the 19 million under privileged Americans further requires implementation of major reforms newly adopted by the FCC.
According to the report, in this era when broadband is essential to innovation, jobs, and global competitiveness, the FCC and the Nation must continue to address obstacles impeding universal broadband deployment and availability.
The report indicates that as per the ruling in section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC must report annually on whether broadband “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.”
The eighth broadband report chronicles major strides taken by providers and policymakers to accelerate deployment. It also shows that billions of dollars have been invested by the communications industry in broadband deployment, including next-generation wired and wireless services.
The report focuses on the expansion of networks technically capable of 100 Mbps plus speeds to over 80 percent of the population through cable’s DOCSIS 3.0 rollout and world-leading LTE deployment by mobile operators. It also sheds light on sweeping reforms by the FCC to its universal service programs, including the new Connect America Fund for broadband deployment, Mobility Fund, and the Lifeline program for low-income Americans.
Furthermore, it talks about action under the FCC’s Broadband Acceleration Initiative to reduce the cost and time required for deployment, as well as numerous steps to expand availability of wireless spectrum for broadband.
Despite this progress, the FCC report finds that approximately 19 million Americans or about six percent of the population, still lack access to fixed broadband service at threshold speeds. In rural areas, nearly one-fourth of the population (14.5 million people) has no access to this kind of service.
Likewise, in the tribal belt, nearly one-third of the population is without broadband connections. Interestingly, as per this report, even in areas where broadband is available, approximately 100 million Americans still do not subscribe.
The FCC broadband report concludes that until the Commission’s Connect America reforms are fully implemented, these gaps are unlikely to close. In short, the report concludes that broadband is not yet being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion.
Edited by Brooke Neuman