New Broadband Deployment Draft Report Shows Narrowing Digital Divide
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“We’re pleased that the FCC’s policy of making deployment data open and transparent to the public resulted in this error being discovered. Fortunately, the new data doesn’t change the report’s fundamental conclusion: we are closing the digital divide, which means we’re delivering on the FCC’s top priority. We’re achieving this result by removing barriers to infrastructure investment, promoting competition, and providing efficient, effective support for rural broadband expansion through our Universal Service Fund programs. I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners to continue making progress toward that goal in the coming year.”
The revised report shows that since last year’s report, the number of Americans lacking access to a fixed terrestrial broadband connection meeting the FCC’s advanced telecommunications capability benchmark speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped by over 18%, from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 21.3 million at the end of 2017. Moreover, the majority of those gaining access to such high-speed connections, approximately 4.3 million, live in rural America, where broadband deployment has traditionally lagged.
Higher-speed services are being deployed at a rapid rate as well. For example, the number of Americans with access to at least 250 Mbps/25 Mbps broadband grew in 2017 by more than 36%, to 191.5 million. And the number of rural Americans with access to such broadband increased by 85.1% in 2017. In addition, the number of Americans with access to 100 Mbps/10 Mbps broadband grew in 2017 by more than 18%, to 288.4 million, while the number of rural Americans with access to such broadband increased by 44% in 2017, to 37.4 million.