Ripe FCC Data – Our Broadband is Still Pretty Slow

Will the US end up with an “information superhighway” or just an “information two lane gravel road”?


As we’ve long noted, the FCC has made broadband policy decisions based on flawed and incomplete data for years. Part of the 1996 Telecom Act required that the agency release quarterly reports on the status of broadband deployment. Unfortunately for consumers, that data has always been essentially useless — with the FCC declaring any zip code that has just one served broadband customer in it to be “wired” for service. This rose-colored glasses mentality is (very) slowly changing.

The FCC this week released their latest report (pdf) on the state of the broadband union, though they’re still working with fouteen-month-old data.

According to the FCC, as of June 30 of 2009, there were 71 million residential landline broadband connections, and only 44% of them met the agency’s goal for the standard definition of broadband: 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.

This report is of particular note because it’s astonishingly the first time the FCC has required that ISPs provide details on what speed tiers consumers subscribe to. The FCC’s data shows that 5.4% of consumers subscribed to 200-700kbps service, 14.1% subscribe to 768kbps-1.5 Mbps service, and 13.7% subscribe to 1.5-3 Mbps. On the faster end of the scale, 31% subscribe to 6-10 Mbps service, and 17% subscribe to speeds between 10 and 25 Mbps.

Other data of note from the study includes the fact that as of June 2009 there were 4 million fiber to the home connections, 31 million DSL connections, and 41 million cable broadband connections. Wireless Internet subscriptions jumped 40% in the first six months of 2009 to 35 million subscribers, though only 45% of those connections met the government wireless stimulus baseline of 768Kbps downstream and 200Kbps upstream.
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