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FCC: two thirds of US doesn't meet new broadband minimum

updated 06:45 pm EST, Fri December 10, 2010

FCC says 68pc of US Internet below 4Mbps broadband

The FCC in a new study (PDF) published this week revealed that over two thirds of US broadband Internet access doesn't meet its newer broadband standards. About 68 percent of connections measured at the end of 2009 were below the 4Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds that qualify for the term. A full 58 percent didn't make 3Mbps downstream, and nearly half at 49 percent couldn't meet at least a 768Kbps upload rate.

Only 30 percent of download speeds could be considered relatively good, at 6Mbps or more, and 12 percent could manage 1.5Mbps uploads or better. The data also revealed that 3G and 4G Internet access was actually the most widespread by type at 39.4 percent, although cable Internet access was almost always the choice for faster access as it made up 70 percent of connections over 3Mbps. ADSL and cable Internet access reached 23.3 percent and 32.4 percent.

Lack of competition also became evident in the study. Although telecom firms have often insisted on the existence of healthy competition, few areas had enough competition at the FCC's new benchmarks. About 58 percent of people had three wired or wireless providers to choose from that could manage at least 3Mbps down and 200Kbps up, but that competition was almost entirely eroded once looking at genuinely fast connections with at least 6Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up. In those conditions, 97 percent of users had only one or two carriers at most to choose from.

The results were lower still when excluding wireless access.

Expansion of faster 3G, 4G and fiber optic services is likely to improve the situation, but the figures at least partly support the National Broadband Plan, which would call for 100 million homes to get 100Mbps or better access by 2020. The discoveries also stress the importance of rural coverage as many of the slowest areas are often rural areas that providers either can't or refuse to service due to the cost of running wires versus the expected return.

Wireless reach may also support FCC arguments that at least some wireless regulation is necessary to prevent duopolies or monopolies as well as to prevent them from excluding competitive services from their networks. Carriers like Verizon have vehemently opposed pro-competition regulation but have also said that 4G could replace landlines in time. [via BBR]





By Electronista Staff
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  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +3

    Ouch

    Painfully familiar--I'm in the 97% with only two carriers to chose from (although I suppose on paper there are several different DSL providers available, even though they're all just subcontracting with AT&T). I also have the 6Mbit down/768Kbps up range, which wouldn't be too painful except that's the fastest available in the county.

    Contrast this with my in-laws' house in bumf**k nowhere, rural Japan, where they have about ten different ISPs available, several of which offer fiber optic connections over 50Mbit down.

    It's ironic, too, because early on in the cable/DSL era the US was WAY ahead of Japan in terms of speed and pricing. It's just that nothing significant has changed in almost a decade in either department for most of the country, while the rest of the world has continued to have competition and ramping up speeds.

  1. jfgilbert

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2010

    +5

    Thank you, FCC

    It is very nice to tell us how bad the service we are getting is. Most of us knew it already: When the best I can get in the middle of Silicon Valley is "up to" 3Mbps down, we know we have a problem. The real question is what you are going to do about it. Probably apologize to AT&T for interfering with their monopoly? Or perhaps make a deal with them where they will get more public funds in exchange for a promise to lay down the fiber that they already got paid for and already promised?

  1. rtbarry

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    how about this...

    one of our stores is in the heart of a major metro, in a super high-end mall, and we're stuck with Qwest and intermittent DSL at 640k/256k on a good day.

    at home, our cheap cable account is like 40mb/4mb.

    yay internets.

  1. Spieguh

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2010

    +3

    Just glad to have broadband up here

    I don't really like paying $80/month for my 1Mb DSL connection, but that's about all we get in this part of Alaska. For now. I could boost it to 3Mb, but I don't feel it's worth the extra $100/month.

  1. chefpastry

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Nov 2005

    0

    Upstream

    I never understood why ISPs refuse to give users decent upstream speeds. Time Warner offers something like 15Mb/s downstream but caps the upstream at around 500Kb/s. Why??? It doesn't make any kind of sense to me...

  1. Lifeisabeach

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2010

    0

    I am so unsurprised

    It's long been demonstrated that the US is lagging behind much of the world in broadband speeds. What's more, not too long ago I read that at least one provider claims that they don't see a demand for greater speeds. It's not that there's no demand, it's that what they want us to pay for it is outrageous, which dampens the demand in return. Just look at that promo Comcast is running for a 105 Mbps service. $105 per month???? For internet access? And that's the promo rate? That is utterly insane. I wouldn't pay that even if the economy was booming.

  1. B9bot

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2008

    -1

    It would be nice if the FCC actually was useful

    It would be nice if the FCC would actually be useful and maybe start fining the providers for poor quality service or something? Telling the world that they have not met the standards doesn't do anything for the customer. Also maybe they need to figure out how to stop the throttling of downloads. I thought when a customer orders high speed and pays for it, they are supposed to get high speed. After all isn't that what the internet providers are supposed to be in service for in the first place.
    All the internet providers advertise big numbers, but it looks like those numbers are false advertising. Maybe the FCC can fine them for false advertising and make them stop there commercials which advertise big numbers that don't exist!

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Re: Upstream

    I never understood why ISPs refuse to give users decent upstream speeds. Time Warner offers something like 15Mb/s downstream but caps the upstream at around 500Kb/s. Why??? It doesn't make any kind of sense to me...


    Because:
    (a) most users do much more downstream than upstream (except to post the occasional picture or something)

    (b) they don't want their home users setting up web servers on their cheap pipes instead of paying for a business plan.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Re: It would be nice if the FCC

    It would be nice if the FCC would actually be useful and maybe start fining the providers for poor quality service or something?

    So I take it you're a government mandate type of person, demanding that they force various companies to provide services regardless of costs or benefits?

    Also maybe they need to figure out how to stop the throttling of downloads. I thought when a customer orders high speed and pays for it, they are supposed to get high speed. After all isn't that what the internet providers are supposed to be in service for in the first place.

    And when you order 'high-speed', you sign a contract that states what limitations you have on your daily/monthly downloads/uploads, restrictions apply, all that stuff. There's absolutely nothing the FCC can do to prevent throttling, for even the net neutrality rules they recently posted say it's OK to throttle.

    If you think throttling is bad, wait until they decide to go back to the future and do what the cell companies do, charge for a specific limit of service, then add-on charges for each GB above that.

    All the internet providers advertise big numbers, but it looks like those numbers are false advertising. Maybe the FCC can fine them for false advertising and make them stop there commercials which advertise big numbers that don't exist!

    That's the FTC's job, not the FCC.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Re: ouch

    Contrast this with my in-laws' house in bumf**k nowhere, rural Japan, where they have about ten different ISPs available, several of which offer fiber optic connections over 50Mbit down.

    And does Japan subsidize the build-out of internet access throughout the country? Do those 10 ISPs offer services on the same network, or did all ten of them run their own lines?

    And does the FCC (or anyone) actually give a reason why having internet that meets these new minimums is 'important'?

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