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Report Using Census Block Data Finds Broadband Adoption Rate of 72.9 Percent

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2009 – A new report using an innovative approach to broadband data finds that the percentage of households in the United States that have adopted high-speed internet services is 72.9 percent.

The report was generated by comparing the Census blocks in which broadband is available with the number of subscribers that carriers report to the Federal Communications Commission.

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WASHINGTON, December 7, 2009 – A new report using an innovative approach to broadband data finds that the percentage of households in the United States that have adopted high-speed internet services is 72.9 percent.

The report was generated by comparing the Census blocks in which broadband is available with the number of subscribers that carriers report to the Federal Communications Commission.

By linking the number of subscribers in a particular state (from FCC data) to a data-set of Census block-by-Census block tabulations of broadband availability, consultant Brian Webster believes that he is able to peg the nation-wide broadband adoption rate for homes passed at 72.9 percent.

That number is about 10 percentage points higher than what other studies have found. That’s not surprising – precisely because he is attempting to count adoption of homes passed, and not of the population as a whole.

“That’s a difference that could have a significant impact on the decisions made to deploy broadband in the remaining un-served markets,” says Webster.

One other facet to the data used in the report: the FCC data used in the report also includes mobile broadband counts, in addition to wireline broadband counts.  Because a home could have two or more broadband connections, the 72.9 percent number counts those homes twice.

Webster and his company are partners with Broadband Census Data LLC, which operates as BroadbandCensus.com. (Our news reporting on BroadbandBreakfast.com, and our popular Broadband Breakfast Club, are run by our sister company Broadband Census News LLC.)

BroadbandCensus.com worked closely with Brian Webster to produce what we believe is the first public and transparent broadband map, of Columbia, South Carolina, and Richland County.

That map, available on BroadbandCensusMaps.com, demonstrates, on a Census block-by-Census block basis, which blocks have broadband available, what technologies (e.g. cable, digital subscriber line) are offered, the speeds at which internet access is promised, and the names of the actual carriers that offer it.

Brian’s latest report doesn’t get into the speed, pricing, technology or carriers that offer broadband. Keep reading, however, to find out how BroadbandCensus.com, working with Brian Webster, can provide that for you.

Instead, the report links together three key sources of data:

  • Data that is publicly released by the FCC as part of its Form 477 Report. (Most of the data — including crucial information about the names of broadband providers — is not publicly released.)
  • Census Bureau data about population counts.
  • Gadberry Group’s Broadband Served Indicator Data. (The Gadberry Group is a location-based services company.)

Look at this image, from the report, of the Census blocks in Arizona.


Arizona

The brown represents Census blocks in which broadband is available. As you can see, the brown Census blocks are clustered around the major metropolitan areas, and other cities.

The yellow represents Census blocks in which there is no reported broadband — and in which there are households.

The green represents Census blocks in which there are no homes present at all.

According to the latest Form 477 data from the FCC, there are 1,575,252 residential broadband lines in the state of Arizona. This data is provided by the carriers.

According to the Census Bureau, there are 2, 722,725 homes in the state of Arizona.

Dividing the first number by the second generates 57.86 percent — or the “take rate” for the state, considered as a whole. In other words, for every 100 households, 58 take broadband.

But what about the “take rate” for only those homes that have broadband available to them?

Think of this number as an adoption rate for broadband services, where and when they are available.

By linking the public FCC database (and Census Bureau numbers) to the data-set from the Gadberry Group, Brian has been able to calculate this adoption rate of homes passed on a state-wide basis.

In other words, he can throw out all those Census blocks where there is either no broadband (the yellow) or no households (the green). Just totaling up the number of households in the brown Census blocks — whether or not the individuals household subscribe to broadband — yields 2,096,738 households.

Then, dividing the total number of residential lines by this reduced number of homes (in Census blocks in which broadband is available) yields a adoption rate of 75.13 percent. That’s a 17 percentage point difference from the raw “take rate” one would get by looking only at the FCC’s public Form 477 number.

There’s a lot of fascinating stuff here — and it’s really only scratching the surface of what is possible by building a public and transparent broadband database.

For starters, this analysis has been done only on a state-by-state basis.

BroadbandCensus.com has been urging the FCC to disclose not merely statewide numbers — but also those numbers on a county level, a ZIP code level, a Census tract level, a Census block group level, and a Census block level.

Developments may be moving in that direction. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration says that – as statewide broadband data becomes available – it is committed to releasing “the names of the providers at the address/Census block/street segment level (whichever level they collect at).”

They’d get a great head-start on that effort by persuading the FCC to release the entire Form 477 database. This is something that we at BroadbandCensus.com have been urging for more than three years.

Fortunately, states, cities, counties, carriers and other broadband stimulus applicants don’t need to wait for the FCC and the NTIA to begin building a map and data-set of Broadband Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition.

At BroadbandCensus.com, we call this the Broadband SPARC, and believe that a national broadband mashup is a key ingredient of a National Broadband Plan.

BroadbandCensus.com has built such a map in Columbia, South Carolina. We are available, on a very short turn-around, to map out the speeds, prices, availability, technologies and providers within individual states, counties and other geographic units.

If you’d like more information about the services that BroadbandCensus.com offers, please visit our web site, BroadbandCensus.com, e-mail us at data@broadbandcensus.com, or call us at 202-580-8196.

Editor’s Note: At about 11:30 a.m. ET, this posting was clarified to explain two reasons why Brian Webster’s adoption rate for broadband homes passed, at 72.9 percent, is higher than other studies of broadband adoption in the United States. They are: (1) Brian is only calculating broadband adoption of homes passed (or homes in Census blocks passed), and not broadband adoption as a percent of population; and (2) the FCC data used in the report also includes mobile broadband counts, in addition to wireline broadband counts.  Because a home could have two or more broadband connections, the 72.9 percent number counts those homes twice.

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark is a nationally respected U.S. telecommunications attorney. An early advocate of better broadband, better lives, he founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for better broadband data in 2008. That effort became the Broadband Breakfast media community. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over news coverage focused on digital infrastructure investment, broadband’s impact, and Big Tech. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Clark served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative. Now, in light of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, attorney Clark helps fiber-based and wireless clients secure funding, identify markets, broker infrastructure and operate in the public right of way. He also helps fixed wireless providers obtain spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Broadband Data

Ookla Has Verizon as Fastest Q1 Fixed Provider, T-Mobile Takes Top Spot for Mobile

T-Mobile was also named the most consistent mobile operator and topped 5G download speeds.

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Image of Speedtest from May 2017 by Daniel Aleksandersen used with permission

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2022 – A market report released Friday by performance metrics web service Ookla named Verizon the fastest fixed broadband provider in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2022, and T-Mobile as the fastest mobile operator during the same period.

Verizon had a median download speed of 184.36 Mbps, edging out Comcast Xfinity’s speed of 179.12 Mbps. T-Mobile’s median mobile speed was 117.83 Mbps.

Verizon had the lowest latency of all providers, according to Ookla, well ahead of Xfinity’s fourth place ranking, yet sat at third for consistency behind both Xfinity and Spectrum.

T-Mobile was also the most consistent mobile operator during the first quarter, achieving an Ookla consistency score of 88.3 percent, which along with median download speed represented an increase from the fourth quarter of 2021.

The company also achieved the fastest median 5G download speed, coming in at 191.12 Mbps.

Verizon also notably increased its 5G download speed from its Q4 metric, attributed in part to the turning on of new C-band spectrum in January following deployment delays and protest from airlines. For mobile speeds, it stood in second behind T-Mobile, bumping AT&T to a standing of third. These rankings were the same for mobile measures of latency and consistency.

Yet on 5G availability, AT&T remains ahead of Verizon.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra came in as the fastest popular device in the country, running at 116.33 Mbps.

Ookla is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

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Broadband Data

FCC’s Rosenworcel: Broadband Nutrition Labels Will Create New Generation of Informed Buyers

The FCC hopes companies will make it easier for consumers to choose a broadband plan that fits their needs.

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Photo of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel speaking at the Mobile World Conference 2022 in Barcelona

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission’s broadband nutrition labels will usher in a new era where buyers have simple information about what they’re buying, agency Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said Friday.

Consumers should know what they’re signing up for when they spend hundreds “or even thousands” of dollars per year for internet service. She was speaking at Friday’s commission hearing on its so-called broadband nutrition label initiative.

The hearing comes on top of a public comment period on the initiative. Many providers are pushing for more flexible regulations on compliance.

When consumers choose a broadband provider for their household, Rosenworcel said may people make decisions with “sometimes incomplete and inaccurate information.”

“The problem for broadband consumers isn’t a total lack of information, but there’s loads of fine print,” Rosenworcel said. “It can be difficult to know exactly what we are paying for and these disclosures are not consistent from carrier to carrier,” which makes comparing prices and services harder and more time-consuming for consumers.

The comments built on other recent speeches by Rosenworcel promoting the initiative, encouraging state attorneys general’s ability to enforce companies’ commitments through their states’ consumer protection statutes.

The FCC began a plan in 2015 for broadband labels that was voluntary. The new initiative directed by last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law makes this effort mandatory for broadband providers.

Matt Sayre, managing director of cross sector economic development firm Onward Eugene, said residents in rural Oregon would benefit from simple information when considering broadband providers. During a time where dial-up and satellite-based offerings were primarily available, Sayre said his neighbors “never used terms like latency or packet loss.”

“These are important aspects of good internet service, but not easily understood by most people,” Sayre said. “Citizens understood they needed better service but were uncertain about what tier of service they needed. This is where broadband labels can be very helpful.”

The hearing was the agency’s first on the initiative.

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Broadband Data

Small ISP Organizations Push FCC for Flexibility on Broadband Label Compliance

Advocates say strict compliance requirements may economically harm small providers.

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Photo of outgoing WISPA CEO of Claude Aiken from April 2018 by New America used with permission

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2022 ­­– In comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday, organizations representing small internet providers are pushing for flexible regulations on compliance with a measure that requires clear reporting of broadband service aspects to consumers.

The measure was adopted at a late January meeting by the commission, mandating that providers list their pricing and speed information about services in the format of a “broadband nutrition label” that mimics a food nutrition label. Congress’ bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted in the fall required that the FCC adopt such policy.

The organizations that submitted comments Wednesday say that strict compliance requirements for the new measure may economically harm small providers.

Among those leading the charge are trade associations Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and America’s Communications Association as well as provider Lumen Technologies.

In comments, limited resources of smaller providers were cited as factors which could disadvantage them in terms of complying with the measure to the FCC’s standards and several organizations asked for small providers to be given extra time to comply.

In separate comments, internet provider Lumen said that the FCC must make multiple changes to its approach if it is to “avoid imposing new obligations that arbitrarily impose excessive costs on providers and undermine other policy goals.”

Last month, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that she looks forward to increased coordination between the FCC and state attorneys general for the enforcement of the measure.

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