Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles written by BroadbandBreakfast.com staff summarizing each chapter of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2010 - The third chapter in the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan focuses on the current state of the broadband ecosystem. It sets out to show that the actual state of the broadband network is not just about availability and the physical network but also consumer choice and usage.
The current state of the internet is the result of a decreasing cost of fiber and the expansion of fiber optic networks. The innovation fueled by this expansion allowed for new companies and products to be created thanks to this network and the overall adoption of these new technologies by consumers.
A recent Nielsen study shows that home broadband use has increased from one hour per month in 1995, to more than 15 hours per month in 2000, to almost 29 hours per month today. While the overall usage of the internet has expanded greatly, the amount of data that an individual uses varies greatly. In another study, the FCC shows that investment in information and communications technologies accounted for almost two-thirds of all economic growth attributed to capital investment between 1995 and 2005.
In regards to availability, the FCC cites U.S. Census data showing that 95 percent of the U.S. population has access to fixed broadband that is capable of speeds of up to 4 megabits per second. The largest gap in availability occurs in the middle part of the country while the coasts and high population areas have over 80 percent access. However, there are gaps in availability - most notably for rural health clinics and schools.
In the next section, the FCC tackles an issue which many consumer groups have been talking about for years – differences in actual vs. advertised network speeds. The FCC has found a large gap between the average speeds consumers actually receive and the advertised speeds. Internet service providers generally claim that their speeds grow by 20 percent annually.
The average download speed most Americans currently can get ranges from 6.7-9.6 mbps with an average of about 8 mbps; upload speeds however are around 1 mbps. However, looking at the actual download speeds, most Americans can only get about 3.1 megabits per second, which is 40 percent to 50 percent lower than the advertised speeds. The same holds true for upload speeds, with the actual being closer to 0.5 mbps.
This disparity however depends on the type of technology. Cable seems to have a better ratio of actual vs. advertised of digital subscriber line (DSL) and satellite has slightly higher differences. This problem is not unique to the United States. In the United Kingdom, studies found that actual speeds were typically about 57 percent of the advertised speeds.
The next section of the plan goes into mobile broadband availability. Many studies have shown that mobile broadband has become the predominant way for minorities and low-income individuals to connect, but the FCC chooses to focus on terrestrial-based connectivity since it provides the highest speeds.
Citing data from American Roamer, it looks like 60 percent of the U.S. land mass has 3G service. This constitutes about 77 percent of all the U.S. population. Twelve percent live in an area served by two providers while 9 percent live in an area served by one.
The expansion of 3G services soon will be ending as most mobile phone providers are looking to move to the faster 4G services such as long-term evolution (LTE technology) or WiMax.
Verizon Communications plans to cover over 285 million people with 4G by the end of 2013 while Sprint plans to use OneMax through its subsidiary company ClearWire. AT&T, along with Metro PCS, also plans to adopt LTE technology and start deployment in 2011, when LTE users will be able to more easily switch between networks.
- Broadband Roundup: Zuckerberg and EU Discuss Rules for Facebook, Trumps Supports Oracle, Nevada Caucus Anxieties
- Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Agree that Current AI Assessment Tools are Garbage, But Differ on How to Proceed
- Attorney General Bill Barr Calls for ‘Recalibrated’ Section 230 as Justice Department Hosts Tech Immunity Workshop
- Broadband Roundup: Global Internet Censorship, Tribal Divide, Klobuchar on the Broadband Stump
- Misinformation Expert Warns About the Great Risks of Political Tampering In the 2020 Election
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Broadband Data9 months ago
Pennsylvania Broadband Speeds Worse Than Previously Believed, According to State Report
Intellectual Property7 months ago
In Congressional Oversight Hearing, Register of Copyrights Says Office Is Responding to Online Users
Broadband Data8 months ago
California Report: Income Most Significant Factor in Low Broadband Adoption
FCC10 years ago
Telecom Companies Are Using Fight Interrupting Oscar Ceremony Broadcast To Manipulate Public and FCC, Argue Broadcasters
Broadband Roundup6 months ago
Cable Industry Touts Energy Efficiency, Next Century Highlights Open Access Fiber, Aspen Forum Set
Privacy and Security6 months ago
Comparing Privacy Policies for Wearable Fitness Trackers: Apple, Fitbit, Xiaomi and Under Armour
Open Access2 months ago
UTOPIA Fiber: A Model Open-Access Network
Antitrust5 months ago
Addressing the Impact of Big Data Upon Antitrust is More Complicated Than a Big Tech Breakup