FCC Broadband Report: 34 million Americans lack broadband access

Despite improvement in broadband deployment, approximately 34 million Americans lack access to fixed broadband with speeds of 25/3 Mbps, according to the FCC. In its 2016 Broadband Progress Report, the FCC examines the availability of “advanced telecommunications” services, as required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

The FCC found that, while the number of Americans lacking broadband access declined by 40 percent in the last year, there are still 34 million Americans without fixed broadband with speeds of 25/3 Mbps and that “advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.”

Significantly, the report noted that consumers need access to both wired and mobile broadband. Wireless Internet access can’t provide the bandwidth people need in their homes and businesses for today’s data- and video-rich online content. Moreover, due to wireless data caps, mobile broadband is expensive.

In addition, the report found that there continues to be a significant urban-rural digital divide. While only four percent of urban Americans lack access to broadband with 25/3 Mbps speeds, 39 percent of Americans living in rural areas lack broadband access. In rural Tribal Lands, the statistic is even worse: 68 percent of residents lack access.

In his statement on the report, Chairman Wheeler outlined the importance of broadband access, writing that the FCC has “a moral and statutory obligation to do better”:

When Americans increasingly rely on broadband for job opportunities, healthcare, education, public safety, and civic participation, but nearly 34 million Americans couldn’t get high-speed fixed broadband even if they wanted it; when rural Americans are nearly ten times more likely than their urban peers to be bypassed by online opportunities; when 47 percent of our students don’t have sufficient bandwidth at school to use the latest digital learning tools, we cannot say that we are meeting the standard Congress set forth. We have a moral and statutory obligation to do better.

Read the entire report here.

2016 Broadband Progress Report (FCC, Jan. 29, 2016)


Chairman Wheeler’s Statement on the 2016 Broadband Progress Report (FCC, Jan. 29, 2016)