Monday, July 19, 2010

FCC Finds 14-24 Million Americans Lack Access to Broadband

In its newly issued Sixth Broadband Deployment Report, the FCC has found that between 14 and 24 million Americans still lack access to broadband, and the immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak. Many of these Americans are poor or live in rural areas that will remain unserved without reform of the universal service program and other changes to U.S. broadband policy that spur investment in broadband networks by lowering the cost of deployment.

The FCC said its report underscores the need for comprehensive reform of the Universal Service Fund, innovative
approaches to unleashing new spectrum, and removal of barriers to infrastructure investment.

The report also takes the long-overdue step of updating a key standard -- speed -- used to determine whether households are served by broadband. It upgrades the standard from 200 kbps downstream, a standard set over a decade ago when web pages were largely text-based, to 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.

"On Congress's question of universality--whether all Americans are on track to being served--the best available data shows that between 14 and 24 million Americans live in areas where they cannot get broadband. These are mostly expensive-to-serve areas with low population density. Without substantial reforms to the agency's universal service programs, these areas will continue to be unserved, denied access to the transformative power of broadband," stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.