Not everyone is getting blazing fast broadband, according to the FCC’s latest Internet access study. Of the 113mln business and residential connections reported at the study’s mid-year ’09 date, only about 30% (34mln) were a minimum advertised speed of 3Mbps downstream and 768kbps upstream. That speed is significant because it’s the initial broadband availability target identified in the National Broadband Plan. Of the 71mln fixed Internet connections, only 44% met or exceeded the speed tier closest to the Plan’s target.
The definitions used by NTIA and RUS for broadband grant requirements fared better. Of the 113 business and residential connections, 76% met the NTIA and RUS broadband grant definition of broadband service—768kbps/200kbps. Among what the FCC identified as 78mn fixed-locations, 91% met that definition. Even a large chunk of mobile subs with a data plan for full Internet access—45%—met the grant definition.
The numbers lend credence to the FCC’s argument that while broadband may be available to much of the country, all broadband is not created the same. As a national average, there were 61 reportable residential fixed-location connections per 100 households in June 2009. It was 27 connections per 100 households for connections whose speeds most closely approximated the initial broadband availability target recommended in the National Broadband Plan.
But do consumers care? A previous release from the FCC in June found that 91% of broadband users are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the speed they get at home and 80% don’t even know how fast their broadband connection is. Perhaps it’s a case of not knowing what you’re missing. Regardless, the FCC is continuing to put a heavy emphasis on broadband speed. This study marked the 1st time the FCC’s report didn’t focus on the old speed classifications of 200kbps. More changes to the report are coming.
“We’re not yet satisfied: the report still needs improvements – and, more to the point, the data collection needs to be improved,” wrote Wireline Competition Bureau’s Steven Rosenberg in an FCC blog post. “As we underscored in our Data Innovation Initiative, we want the decisions of this Commission to be driven by the best data possible. That means gathering the data we need to support policy decisions – including, for example, answering questions about competition – and improving public access to as much data as we can while protecting confidential data.”