The Federal Communications Commission released the second of its twice-yearly data on broadband availability on October 29, showing data as of December, 2020. The data, which are available at the Census Block level, show a continued increase in availability and speeds. The Technology Policy Institute (TPI) analyzed the data and incorporated it into the TPI Broadband Map following its release. Highlights of the new data are:
The Technology Policy Institute is adding a “Broadband Connectivity Index” (BCI) to the TPI Broadband Map. The BCI incorporates information from multiple datasets in a way that makes it possible to compare overall connectivity objectively and consistently across geographic areas.
In the middle of the pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission used a reverse auction process to save taxpayers about $7 billion on projected expenses of $16 billion for broadband service to unserved areas — nearly a 50 percent savings!
Kentucky, Louisiana and Tribal areas have the largest shares of households signing up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program subsidy. The Technology Policy Institute's (TPI) Broadband Map uses EBB data from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to display program usage and overall progress across the country.
US broadband policy has emphasized the importance of facilities-based competition given its potential to encourage investment, improve quality, and lower prices. A natural question to ask today is whether this competition can encourage more adoption. Using Census-tract-level data from the Federal Communications Commission and the American Community Survey (ACS) from 2017-2019, Wallsten finds that competition between cable and fiber does not seem to bring the last group of unconnected people online.
California’s net neutrality law, which a federal district court upheld in February, is already wading into the regulatory morass that brought down past regulatory regimes charged with maintaining neutrality in rail transport and energy.
Since 2014, the Federal Communications Commission has collected detailed price data on nearly 24,000 broadband plans through its “Urban Rate Survey.” The FCC uses the survey data to “determine the reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed voice and broadband rates for universal service purposes.” The presence of this data and analysis of it yield three conclusions:
The pandemic has caused the U.S. to take seriously the question of how to make sure all residents have broadband access for remote learning, telehealth, government services, work, job training, and other activities necessary to participate fully in society. Unfortunately, the calls to define broadband as a connection offering symmetric, 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload bandwidth (100/100) are arbitrary, with no evidence supporting these numbers. Every application commonly used for key services, as well as popular entertainment streaming services, rely on far less than 100 Mbps.