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Americans With Access to Broadband Jumped Over Past Two Years, Says Commerce Department’s NTIA

in Broadband Data/Broadband's Impact/National Broadband Plan/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2013 – The percentage of Americans with access to broadband speeds of at least 3 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 768 Kilobits per second (Kbps) upload grew from 95 percent in 2010 to 98 percent in 2012, according to a report issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The blog post about the series is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/blog/2013/ntia-explores-broadband-availability-new-report-series, and the full report is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/usbb_avail_report_05102013.pdf.

While these speeds are adequate for basic activities such as email, many other applications, like video streaming, requiring greater speeds.

Additionally, all seven categories of download speeds displayed in the data showed growth in broadband availability. This was most notably at 25 Mbps: the percentage of Americans with speeds in that category of availability download speeds jumped from 50 percent of Americans with to 79 percent.

Despite this growth, a significant disparity still exists between urban and rural access to broadband service.  While nearly all urban residents have access to download speeds of at least 6 Mbps, only 82 percent of rural communities can access these speeds, the report said.

In addition, less than half as many rural residents as urban residents have access to download speeds of 25 Mbps or greater.

The disparity between rural and urban populations translates into the rankings of states in terms of broadband availability. More urbanized states such as Rhode Island and Connecticut ranked highest in availability, while the report placed more rural communities like Montana and Alaska in the bottom slots.

In terms of technology, wired broadband has been the dominant factor in the spread of access over the two-year period. Improvements in cable speed and increased deployment of fiber have been particularly important.

Mobile wireless has also seen a major spike in availability, more than tripling from 26 percent in 2010 to 81 percent in 2012. The report predicts that speeds available on mobile broadband should increase in the near future.

NTIA officials attributed much of this growth to the success of the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program and the Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband Initiatives Program. However, the report said that much progress still needed to be made in increasing availability of higher download speeds and reducing the disparity between rural and urban broadband access.

Josh Evans is a political science major at Grove City College. He is originally from Dover, Florida. An intern at the National Journalism Center in the summer of 2013, he is a Reporter for Broadband Census News and the News Editor for The Collegian at Grove City College.

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