Data & Mapping
“From my first day as Chairman, the FCC’s top priority has been closing the digital divide. It’s heartening to see these numbers, which demonstrate that we’ve been delivering results for the American people,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “In just three years, the number of American consumers living in areas without access to fixed broadband at 25/3 Mbps has been nearly cut in half. I’ve personally met some of these consumers, from Mandan, North Dakota to Ethete, Wyoming.
The Federal Communications Commission released its annual Broadband Deployment Report. The gap between urban and rural Americans with access to 25/3 Mbps fixed broadband service fell from 30 percentage points at the end of 2016 to 16 points at the end of 2019. Additionally, more than three-quarters of those Americans in areas newly served in 2019 (nearly 3.7 million) live in rural areas, bringing the number of rural Americans in areas served by at least 25/3 Mbps broadband service to nearly 83%, up 15 points since 2016.
FCC Establishes the Digital Opportunity Data Collection and Modernizes the FCC Form 477 Data Program
The Federal Communications Commission adopted additional rules for the Digital Opportunity Data Collection to help ensure that the FCC collects precise and accurate broadband deployment data in its mission to close the digital divide. The new rules specify which fixed and mobile broadband Internet access service providers are required to report availability and/or coverage data, and adopt requirements for reporting speed and latency for fixed technologies.
Looking ahead, the biggest challenge facing the long-term health of the FCC’s universal service programs is the way they are funded. We are in a unique position to solve this challenge. Here’s how. Back when I was a Commissioner in 2016, I proposed that Congress should authorize a dividend from the sale of wireless spectrum that would go toward closing the digital divide. Whenever the FCC auctioned spectrum for flexible use, we would set aside 10% of the net auction proceeds for the deployment of broadband in unserved communities. I thought it was a good idea then.
Among the Department of Commerce's accomplishments in 2020:
Now is time for the Federal Communications Commission to restructure its fixed broadband definitions so that they better reflect consumer demand and market realities and are more resilient to the accelerating pace of technological change. In addition, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development (Broadband Commission) should lead an effort to develop globally-harmonized and future-proof broadband definitions, that do not continually relegate people in some countries to second class connectivity.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity of broadband became incontrovertible. Attending school, working from home, visiting a doctor, and accessing government services all relied on reliable broadband connections. For many, bridging the digital divide emerged as an even-more-urgent priority. We’ve tracked the stories that best explain the complexities of the digital divide and the crucial policy responses. Here’s our list.
The Federal Communications Commission's Office of Engineering and Technology released a report on measuring fixed broadband, finding, among other things: the weighted average advertised speed of the participating broadband providers was 146.1 Mbps, representing an 8% increase from the previous year and over a 100% increase from two years prior; and for most of the major broadband providers tested, measured download speeds were 100% or better than advertised speeds during the peak hours.
As a director of a state broadband program, one of my biggest challenges is data. I know lots of areas in my state have inadequate or no service. I get those emails every day. We have a public facing broadband map which is based on the data that the internet service providers (ISPs) provide to the FCC on what is known as the Form 477. The notorious problem with the 477 data is that gross inaccuracies are built into the reporting.