Hey, we're doing a great job deploying broadband, FCC report claims

7 February 2018 by Steve Blum
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The Federal Communications Commission (or at least its republican majority) believes that “advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion”. That’s the bottom line conclusion of the 2018 Broadband Deployment report, which was released on Friday.

Writing in Ars Technica, John Brodkin does a great job of unpicking the report’s rhetorical gymnastics, which simultaneously assign credit for successes to current FCC policies and blame for any failings on the previous democratic majority. The problem is that all of the data is from 2016, before Donald Trump became president. Worth a read.

Overall, the FCC’s data shows that 92% of U.S. residents have access to fixed terrestrial service, wired or wireless, that meets the 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up advanced services standard, but there’s a sharp difference between urban communities, where availability is at 98%, and rural areas, where it’s only 69%. It only gets worse as speeds increase – at 50 Mbps down/5 Mbps up, urban coverage slips slightly to 97%, but falls to 64% for rural residents.

On the other hand, the FCC believes that there is no such divide when it comes to basic mobile 4G service. Its figures show that urban coverage at 5 Mbps down/1 Mbps up is at 100% and rural availability is 98%. The gap widens, though, when the mobile benchmark is 10 Mbps down/3 Mbps up – 91% of urban residents can get that level of service, versus only 70% in rural areas.

On one measure, urban and rural residents are on an even playing field. The per capita income of people who have both in-home and mobile Internet access (at 25/3 and 5/1 respectively) is higher than those who don’t – $31,000 versus $25,000, and there’s not difference when it’s broken out by rural and urban residents.