If you live in the US and want home Internet service at speeds of less than 100Mbps, you will likely find an Internet service provider in your area or not at all.
New Internet Access Services Report was released by the Federal Communications Commission last week. The report’s broadband competition index shows that forty-four percent of developed census blocks have zero home broadband providers offering download speeds of at least 100Mbps and upload speeds of at least 10Mbps.
Forty-one percent of developed census blocks have an ISP that offers such speeds, for a total of 85 percent with zero or one ISP. The remaining 15 percent have two or three providers at that level as of the end of 2016. That is up a bit from June 30, 2016while about 12 percent of census blocks have at least two providers of 100Mbps services.
While the FCC monitors deployment of 100Mbps Internet, the Commission uses 25Mbps below and 3Mbps above as the primary speed point for judging broadband progress. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has called for raising the FCC broadband download standard to 100Mbps, but the FCC has kept it at 25Mbps.
At the 25Mbps/3Mbps level, 56 percent of developed census blocks have at least two new data providers. That’s up from 42 percent, the share with at least two providers six months ago. Thirty percent had a specific provider, and 13 percent had none.
The data is based on extensive Form 477 filings that ISPs have to file with the FCC. While this is the FCC’s best data on deployment and competition, it’s always about a year behind schedule—the latest report covers broadband access as of December 31, 2016.
There were certainly new broadband deployments and speed increases in existing deployments last year with those pesky net neutrality laws, so the numbers will look good if they go through 2017. But the FCC data may still overstate broadband competition slightly because that counts ISPs as serving things. the entire Census Block even if it serves only one house in the block. There are more than six million developed census blocks in the US.
An analysis based on June 2016 FCC data found that more than 10.6 million US households do not have access to Internet service delivered with download speeds of less than 25Mbps, and an additional 46.1 million households live in regions with only one provider that offers those speeds.
DSL contains more census blocks than cable or cable
The latest FCC report covering December 2016 has another table that provides some insight into the types of microphone choices consumers have. It shows that 63.2 percent of developed census blocks have one cable provider, but only 3.8 percent have two and 0.3 percent have three:
For home Internet connections, “the median downstream speed is 50Mbps and the median upstream speed is 5Mbps,” the report said. About 62 percent of residential broadband connections have speeds of at least 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up, and “(a) about 24 percent of all residential fixed connections have a down speed of at least 100 Mbps.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently declared that broadcasting has been delivered to all Americans “in a fair and timely manner,” and said that his repeal of net neutrality rules is causing enforcement. But as previously written, the FCC does not have data for the period after the repeal of net neutrality, and the examples of new enforcement that Pai’s FCC points to are projects that began during the Obama administration.
Satellite impact on broadband data
A nationwide satellite presence has the potential to make broadband competition look better than it actually is in FCC reports. Over the years, the FCC has told us that the broadband competition pattern in each report excludes satellite services.
But that’s clearly incorrect, as the FCC now tells us that the chart has always included satellite within its count of how many providers serve each census block at different speeds. The FCC could provide competitive data with and without satellite, but it doesn’t.
So, that has really affected the competition data for low speeds. The FCC said satellite providers reported offering 10Mbps speeds in 99.1 percent of developed census blocks.
But in future reports, satellite could have a big impact on the 25Mbps/3Mpbs data competition. HughesNet started offering 25Mbps/3Mbps work in March 2017, for example. That will be presented as an option for customers in future reports although few people will choose satellite over cable or cable due to satellite visibility and low data caps.
The fact that Internet consumers generally do not consider satellite to be a viable alternative to cable or cable broadband can be seen in other data from the FCC report. Satellite accounts for 1.7 percent of all residential fixed Internet connections with speeds of less than 10Mbps despite being available in more than 99 percent of the country. Cable accounts for 72.3 percent, fiber-to-the-home accounts for 12.8 percent, and DSL is at 12.7 percent. There are a total of 78.2 million residential connections that are at least 10Mbps down and 1Mbps up.
Fixed wireless services account for about 0.4 percent of 10Mbps-and-over connections. Wireless’ ‘fixed’ presence in the US broadband market is also set to grow as major carriers AT&T we had Verizon Expand the use of non-wireless home Internet services in sparsely populated areas.