14 to 24 Million Americans Lack Broadband Access
Between 14 and 24 million Americans still lack broadband Internet access, and the chance of them getting it sometime soon doesn’t look good either, according to a new report by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Most of these Americans are poor or live in rural areas. They could likely remain unserved until a U.S. broadband policy reform lowers costs, the FCC said in its sixth annual report to Congress about the state of deployment.
The FCC said the results underscore the need for reform to the Universal Service Fund, which provides service to under-served and non-served rural areas, innovative approaches to spectrum allocation, the removal of barriers to infrastructure investment and better broadband data collection.
“In an era when broadband has become essential for U.S. jobs, economic growth, global competitiveness, and democratic engagement, millions of Americans live in areas without broadband,” according to the report. “The goal of universal availability – deployment to all Americans – is not being met in a timely way.”
The FCC also updated its definition as to what makes up broadband service. The standard 200 kilobits per second downstream -- a standard set over a decade ago when web pages were largely text-based – was changed to 4 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
“This is a minimum speed generally required for using today’s video-rich broadband applications and services, while retaining sufficient capacity for basic Web browsing and e-mail,” the FCC said.