The FCC has published a new 87-page report titled “Internet Access Services: Status as of December 31, 2009.” The report explains that 68 percent of connections in the US advertised as “broadband” can’t really be considered as such because they fall below the agency’s most recent minimum requirements: 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream.
In other words, more than two-thirds of broadband Internet connections in the US aren’t really broadband; over 90 million people in the country are using a substandard broadband service. To make matters worse, 58 percent of connections don’t even reach downstream speeds above 3Mbps. The definition of broadband is constantly changing, and it’s becoming clear that the US is having a hard time keeping up.
The report also notes that wireless service subscribers with mobile devices and data plans for full Internet access grew 48 percent to 52 million in the second half of 2009. Furthermore, for all connections over 200 kbps, mobile wireless is the leading technology at 39.4 percent, ahead of cable modems and ADSL, at 32.4 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively. For connections over 3Mbps, however, cable modems account for 70 percent share.
While it’s important to remember that the report focuses on what broadband speeds consumers are actually choosing to purchase, as opposed to availability, it’s still worth noting that the overall picture is a poor one. Consumers may have higher speeds available to them but if they are opting to subscribe to significantly lower speed tiers, competition isn’t fierce enough and thus the overall situation isn’t changing very much.