FCC: Broadband deployment is too slow

High-speed broadband isn’t being deployed in a “reasonable and timely fashion,” according to Chairman Wheeler’s draft of the 2016 Broadband Progress Report. More than 34 million Americans -- or 10 percent of the U.S. population -- can’t get broadband at the FCC’s benchmark speeds of 25/3 Mbps (downstream/upstream). In rural areas, a full 39 percent of the population can’t get broadband at those speeds. The U.S. ranks 16th in the world in broadband deployment.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to determine whether “advanced telecommunications capability,” is being deployed to all Americans in a “reasonable and timely fashion.” If not, the FCC must “take immediate action” to speed deployment.

The broadband report emphasizes that people need both landline and mobile broadband. Mobile broadband is not a substitute for landline Internet access -- it costs more due to data caps and can’t provide the capacity to support bandwidth-intensive uses, such as streaming video, by multiple users in a household.

Wheeler notes that even where there is broadband access, much of the county lacks access to the FCC’s broadband benchmark speeds of 25/3 Mbps:

The draft highlights the FCC’s attempts to increase broadband deployment, including the Connect America Fund, the Rural Broadband Experiments in 12 states, and the proposal to modernize the Lifeline program to support broadband services.


Fact Sheet: 2016 Broadband Progress Report, Chairman’s Draft (FCC, Jan. 8, 2015)