FCC releases 2016 Broadband Progress Report

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released its 2016 Broadband Progress Report, including the Commission’s conclusion that while progress has been made, “advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.”

The FCC reports that 1 in 10 Americans—approximately 34 million people—still lack access to broadband, and that broadband is significantly less accessible to rural and Tribal populations than urban populations. While just 4% of urban Americans lack fixed access, 39% of residents in rural areas and Tribal lands lack access.

The report also notes that short-term goals for broadband access in schools were not met, with 41% per cent of schools failing to provide 100 Mbps access per 1,000 students/staff. However, the Commission did report increased funding made available in the past year to improve broadband and wifi connections in schools.

“In light of our findings, we conclude that much work remains to be done to ensure that all Americans have the access to advanced telecommunications capability,” said the Commission.

The report pointed to progress in eliminating barriers to fixed access, such as public-private partnerships. Progress is also being made in expanding mobile voice and broadband service, with recipients of Mobility Fund support reporting expansion of 3G and 4G coverage.

An FCC press release announcing the report outlined several key findings:

  • 10% of all Americans (34 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.
  • 39% of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
    • By contrast, only 4% of urban Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
    • The availability of fixed terrestrial services in rural America continues to lag behind urban America at all speeds: 20% lack access even to service at 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 1% from 2011, and 31% lack access to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 4% from 2011.
  • 41% of Americans living on Tribal lands (1.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband
    • 68% living in rural areas of Tribal lands (1.3 million people) lack access.
  • 66% of Americans living in US territories (2.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
    • 98% of those living in rural territorial areas (1.1 million people) lack access.
  • Americans living in rural and urban areas adopt broadband at similar rates where 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service is available, 28% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas.
  • While an increasing number of schools have high-speed connections, approximately 41% of schools, representing 47% of the nation’s students, lack the connectivity to meet the Commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.
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