FCC Report: Up to 24 Million Americans Lack Broadband Access

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Washington, DC - Jul 20, 2010 - In response to a Congressional directive to inquire whether broadband "is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion," the FCC concluded in its Sixth Broadband Deployment Report that between 14 and 24 million Americans still lack access to broadband, and the immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak. This FCC says the 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 says that many of those underserved 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 report concludes that the goal of universal availability -- deployment to all Americans -- is not being met in a timely way, and proposes to address key recommendations from the FCC's National Broadband Plan to connect all Americans as quickly as possible. The FCC's recommendations:

  • Reforming the FCC's universal service programs to support broadband through public-private partnerships
  • Unleashing spectrum for mobile broadband
  • Reducing barriers to infrastructure investment, including delays in access to poles and rights-of-way
  • Collecting better broadband data to assist policymakers and consumers

    The report also updates the decade-old access speed standard, upgrading it from 200kb/s downstream to 4Mb/s downstream and 1Mb/s upstream. The FCC considers this a minimum speed generally required for using video-rich broadband applications and services, while retaining sufficient capacity for basic Web browsing and e-mail. The Commission says its standard will evolve over time.

    Now known as the 706 Report, the report includes for the first time a list of unserved areas, compiled from data not previously available to the FCC.

  • Read the FCC Report
  • Read the High-Speed Services for Internet Access Report

    Docket Numbers GN 09-137, GN 09-51

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