FCC: Digital divide narrowing

May 29, 2019
According to the FCC's 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, the nation's digital divide is narrowing. Congress has directed the FCC to encourage the deployment of ...

According to the FCC's 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, the nation's digital divide is narrowing.

Congress has directed the FCC to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability, or broadband, to all Americans "on a reasonable and timely basis," and to report annually on the status of deployment. Consistent with that directive, the FCC's top priority for the past two years has been closing the digital divide between Americans with access to modern broadband networks and those without it.

This year's report indicates:

  • The number of Americans lacking access to a terrestrial fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC's benchmark of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream has dropped from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 21.3 million Americans at the end of 2017, a decrease of more than 18%. The majority of those gaining access to such connections, approximately 4.3 million, are in rural America.
  • Higher-speed services are expanding as well: The number of Americans with access to at least 250 Mbps/25 Mbps broadband grew in 2017 by more than 36%, to 191.5 million. The number of rural Americans with access to such broadband increased by 85.1% in 2017.
  • Broadband providers large and small deployed fiber networks to 5.9 million new homes in 2018, the largest number ever recorded.
  • Capital expenditures by broadband providers increased in 2017, reversing the declines of both 2015 and 2016.

Based on this and other evidence, the report finds for a second consecutive year that advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis. However, the FCC remains committed to ensuring that all Americans, including those in rural areas, Tribal lands, and disaster-affected areas, have the benefits of a high-speed broadband connection.        

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