FCC

More Americans Have High-Speed Internet Access Than Ever

Preliminary FCC report claims the number of Americans with high-speed connections grew by 20 percent in 2017.

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FCC

For all the drama over the repeal of Net Neutrality and continuing fears about a "digital divide" between online haves and have-nots, the number of Americans with high-speed access to the Internet continues to grow, says a preliminary report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The report covers development in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. From an FCC press release:

The number of Americans lacking access to a fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC's
benchmark speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped by over 25%, from 26.1 million Americans
at the end of 2016 to 19.4 million at the end of 2017. Moreover, the majority of those gaining
access to such high-speed connections, approximately 5.6 million, live in rural America, where
broadband deployment has traditionally lagged.

The private sector has responded to FCC reforms by deploying fiber to 5.9 million new homes
in 2018, the largest number ever recorded. And overall, capital expenditures by broadband
providers increased in 2017, reversing declines that occurred in both 2015 and 2016.

Other key findings of the report include the following, based on data through the end of 2017:

  • The number of Americans with access to 100 Mbps/10Mpbs fixed broadband
    increased by nearly 20%, from 244.3 million to 290.9 million.
  • The number of Americans with access to 250 Mbps/50 Mbps fixed broadband grew by
    over 45%, to 205.2 million, and the number of rural Americans with access to such
    service more than doubled.

"For the past two years, closing the digital divide has been the FCC's top priority…We've been tackling this problem by removing barriers to infrastructure investment, promoting competition, and providing efficient, effective support for rural broadband expansion through our Connect America Fund," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in the press release, which is available as a download here.

This is a preliminary report, which is being circulated among FCC commissioners, who will vote to approve or reject its finding. There are five FCC commissioners, with three seats going to Republicans and two to Democrats (whichever party runs the White House gets the majority). The vote is expected to go along party lines and one commissioner has already publicly dissented, saying that the rural buildout is too slow and justifies more-intrusive regulation. According to a source at the FCC, the full report could be released in a "few days or week."

It's not clear what level of progress Rosenworcel would count as "reasonable and timely." But it's equally clear that, contrary to critics, more and more people get faster connections every year.

In April 2017, I interviewed Pai about his rejection of Net Neutrality rules (which he called "a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist" and which were officially repealed in 2018) and his vision for telecommunications.

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  1. Now it’s time for Reason to get a more bug-free comment system, so that commenters can instantaneously post “lol ur stupid.”

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  2. That is good news.
    I wish this increase in broadband access were because of the free market, but I imagine, in the current climate, that it’s because of mandates and regulations.

    1. Yes Jeff. This is direct proof that net neutrality is required isnt it.

    2. Because Jeff says so. Why? Because Jeff says so.

  3. To be honest, I’ve had access to high-speed internet since 1998 and assumed for a long time that it was that way for everyone.

    1. Bullshit, no one is that clueless. You gotta get out of mom’s basement and travel some bud.

  4. Fist scan had more people with ‘high-speed rail’!
    Carry on…

  5. The original broadband rollout was driven by stuff like Napster and Quake III.

    I wonder how much of the growth in broadband now is driven by people eschewing cable for streaming services. DSL rates looks great after being reamed by the cable company for years. Now that you don’t need cable for what we used to call “cable TV” anymore, . . .

    1. Having used both DSL, and Cable internet recently, I’m a DSL convert.

      Now, granted I live less than 1500 ft from a mini-dslam so the service is rock solid and I can get speeds comparable to what my cableco offered for about $10 less a month (30 less currently since I’m on the introductory rate)

      1. You can stay on that rate with a call every 90-180 days.

      2. You can stay on that rate with a call every 90-180 days.

      3. You can stay on that rate with a call every 90-180 days.

      4. You can stay on that rate with a call every 90-180 days.

        1. Or post four times, whichever comes first.

    2. I wonder how much of the growth in broadband now is driven by people eschewing cable for streaming services.

      When YouTube started getting popular, the ISPs were forced to upgrade their data pipes to handle the load. The same thing is going to happen as streaming becomes more ubiquitous, because it’s cheaper or an equivalent cost overall to lease a decent data rate and buy a few streaming subscriptions to get content you want, rather than pay out the ass for dozens of channels you’ll never watch.

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    1. finally you landed on a relevant post

    2. This post is actually relevant to the article.

      Well done skynet.

  7. Nuh-uh. The internet ended when Net Nootrality went away. Duh.

  8. having online access is not a real determiner of quality of life.

  9. Please define “access”.

    1. Access like public healthcare, it’s there, you just can’t have it.

  10. Ahh, the same cockholster who wants the FCC to regulate e-cigarette ads. Jessica should shut her suck and stick with private practice communications law.

  11. I love the lack of logic in Rosenworcel’s argument. Let’s say internet was a brand new technology that just became available today; would you complain that free markets don’t work because most people don’t have it yet? The availability of internet, or lack thereof in certain areas, is not indicative of policy. It is simply the reality of markets and the same reason some people still don’t have cell phones or HD tvs.

  12. It concludes that across the country broadband deployment is reasonable and timely.

    I beg to differ.

    Millions of households?in rural and urban communities?have no access to high-speed service. That’s a fact.

    Do, uh, colleges not teach logic anymore? Debating? How to string two thoughts together coherently?

    The one (the FCC’s conclusion) has nothing to do with the other (lot’s of people don’t have access to high-speed service).

    And, as someone with shitty, low-speed internet, let me say that for a lot of us, it was a trade-off we deliberately made because, frankly, if the internet is fast enough to watch Netflix, its fast enough for 99% of the country. So we accepted that limitation in exchange for other things – like large houses on a large lot far enough away from our neighbors that we can’t hear it everytime they flush the toilet.

    It’ll be nice when someone gets around to running a higher speed line to my neighborhood – I’m not being held back in any way by not having it.

    1. ” it was a trade-off we deliberately made ”

      It’s a trade-off you needn’t have made. Had you moved to China, you could have both. Thanks to Chinese government investments, most of the rural residents have access to fiber optic connections.

      One of the benefits of being a johnny come lately to this whole computer thing is that they haven’t sunk enormous amounts into out-dated infrastructure.

      1. Fiber optic connections that carry only government-approved content. I’d rather wait longer for the market to deliver a truly free internet than have the government run a propaganda pipe for me

      2. “Thanks to Chinese government investments, most of the rural residents have access to fiber optic connections.”

        Spoken like someone who’s never actually been to China, or had to do business there.

        1. “Spoken like someone who’s never actually been to China, or had to do business there.”

          Been many times, as I’ve pointed out in these pages before. I avoided the cities but spent many months in the rural south and west. Not recently, but while I was there, some 20 years ago, cable and satellite TV were being introduced to rural areas, again leap-frogging the development pattern of wealthier countries.

          As for doing business there, I did mostly translation work. Once, for example, I worked as a translator for an American Hmong who spoke English and his Lao Hmong dialect, and the locals who spoke Beijing Chinese and Guizhou Hmong.

      3. In addition, while I don’t have statistics, I strongly doubt that many rural Chinese have fiber optic connections. China is a vast country whose rural area residents live the same way they’ve lived for a thousand years.

        I’m guessing that a few rural residents located just outside Chinese megalopolis centers have fiber, and I’ll bet it’s just as slow as it is in the center of Shenzhen or Guangzhou or Dongguan.

        1. ” I strongly doubt that many rural Chinese have fiber optic connections.”

          So do I. Apparently though, they have access to such connections.

      4. One of the benefits of being a johnny come lately to this whole computer thing a third-world shithole that murdered millions of their own people in several Maoist social and economic experiments, before finally joining the 20th century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is that they haven’t sunk enormous amounts into out-dated infrastructure.

        More accurate.

        1. Undergoing the turmoil you speak of is not necessarily a part of what I’m talking about. It’s not ‘joining the 20th century’ I’m referring to. If anything it’s a matter of skipping over the 20th century and jumping right into the 21st century.

          Britain suffered the same curse that America is facing now. Being the first to industrialize, she was also the first to face obsolescence.

    2. “Do, uh, colleges not teach logic anymore? Debating? How to string two thoughts together coherently?”

      No, no they don’t.

    3. What, a 100 square foot sustainable efficiency sleep pod and e-scooter too down-market for you?

  13. Not surprising that idiot Rosenworcel is being Debbie Downer with her “we didn’t snap our fingers and make this happen instantaneously!” false benchmark for success.

    Sit down and shut your piehole, Jessie, you have nothing of value to offer here.

  14. Still stuck with Satellite internet where I live. $60 a month for about 1Mpbs (best case scenario) and 5 gigs plus 50 from 2 to 7 am in the morning

    Because of government grants, Hughesnet actually improves the speed of the satellite internet, but not the data cap.

  15. I’m in a rural area with no broadband but satellite. Landline broadband is a dream I sometimes have.

  16. ” more and more people get faster connections every year.”

    There’s probably not a country on the planet where this is not true. But the claim is that more people have access to high speed internet, nothing about ‘getting faster connections,’ which I assume to be different things.

    1. Since the article directly addresses this, what’s your point?

  17. There’s nothing newsworthy about what is claimed here. The first rule of journalism is dog bites man is not a story. Man bites dog is. I’d be surprised if Americans had less access. More access should surprise nobody. Fake news based solely on a press release from a government regulator. Don’t be such a stooge.

  18. Must be fake news.
    If the liberals in the federal government didn’t mandate it, and fund it with higher taxes on the wealthy, it cannot be real.

    1. ” it cannot be real.”

      It’s a leaked report from a government regulatory body. You’re wise to be skeptical.

      1. Unless Mueller leaked it, right?

        1. Exercise skepticism. And demand more from your news media than regurgitating press releases and or leaks. As long as you do that I’m fine with your attempts at political point scoring.

  19. Garnish a stinky turd, call it a gourmet creation, and sell it for $20/lbs, and the idiots at reason.com will scream joyful elation at the “triumphs” of “capitalism.

    It’s interesting that the “Libertarian” “free market” reason.com is not only heavily reliant on, but ecstatic about a report from a highly-corrupt bureaucracy.

    1. Here are countries with a greater percentage of high-speed internet connections than the U.S.:

      Japan – 92%
      Russia – 76.41%
      Germany – 89.65%
      UK – 94.78%
      France – 85.62%
      S Korea – 92.72%
      Spain – 80.56%
      Canada – 89.84%
      Malaysia – 78.79%
      Australia – 88.24%
      Taiwan – 79.75%
      Netherlands – 90.41%
      Kazakhstan – 76.80%
      Belgium – 86.52%
      Sweden – 91.51%
      UAE – 90.60%
      Czech Republic – 76.48%
      Hungary – 79.26%
      Azerbaijan – 78.20%
      Switzerland – 89.41%
      Austria – 84.32%
      Israel – 79.78%
      Hong Kong – 87.30%
      Denmark – 96.97%
      Norway – 97.30%
      Finland – 87.70%
      Singapore – 81.00%
      Slovakia – 80.48%
      New Zealand – 88.47%
      Ireland – 82.17%
      Kuwait – 78.37%
      Puerto Rico – 80.32%
      Qatar – 94.29%
      Latvia – 79.89%
      Bahrain – 98.00%
      Estonia – 87.24%
      Macau – 81.64%
      Luxembourg – 97.49%
      Malta – 77.29%
      Iceland – 98.24%
      The Bahamas – 80.00%
      Barbados – 79.55%
      Aruba – 93.54%
      Andorra – 97.93 %
      Bermuda – 98.00%
      Niue – 86.90%
      Anguilla – 81.57%

      AND THE LIST GOES ON, AND ON, AND ON……..

      WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS MORONIC ARTICLE AGAIN?

      1. It’s unfair to compare Japan with America because black people.

        1. Of course, this is one of the truest statements people can make when pointing out the serious flaws of cross country comparisons.

          1. It’s a statement made only when America come up the worse in comparison.

            Odds are you’re a racist, though I doubt you’d ever admit it. Maybe you just pose as one on the internet for kicks.

            1. Hey now, don’t leave the Hispanics out of this! They’re also responsible for 35% of the murders in the USA, lower incomes, etc. It’s not JUST blacks that drive down US averages.

              In all seriousness though, without those two groups US average income would be around $80K a year, our murder rate (while drowning in guns) would be comparable or lower than any country in Europe or Asia, and we’d still be showing up towards the top of international educational achievement ratings. These are all hard facts, like it or not!

      2. For state-capital (ie. crony-capitalist) apologists like reason, corporate Lords using special-interest legislation is their twisted version of “free markets”.

        Leave it up to the complete imbeciles at reason.com to spin bureaucratic capitalism as “free market”.

        HEY, Nick Gillespie, try reading:
        “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith; or works by
        David Ricardo, and/or Thomas Robert Malthus.

        You obviously have no friggin clue as to the true nature nor ideology of “free markets”.

        The “Invisible Hand” is not attached to the body of a Bureaucrat nor Politician nor corporate Lord.

        1. “Net Neutrality” advocates were rending their garments that this “killed the internet”.

          Where is this “dead internet” that Net Neutrality losers were claiming was going to happen?

      3. “Puerto Rico – 80.32%”

        Well, technically Puerto Rico is part of the US…

      4. Explain to me how 290.9 million Americans have access to internet speeds of 100Mbps, yet we have less access than countries with only 70 something percent penetration? Cuz 290 out of 330 or so million people is 87.9%…

        Also, there’s this thing called population density. There’s a reason some shit doesn’t work in the USA… It’s because we’re one of the LEAST dense countries on earth. So quit being a fucking retard.

  20. President Pai has a nice ring to it.

  21. This is pretty much bullshit. Debunked over and over.

  22. YES VIRGINIA, THERE ARE LINOS.

    LINOS ARE THOSE WHOM WHINE & COMPLAIN ABOUT LAWS & RULES THAT BENEFIT THE MASSES, GRIPING ABOUT GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE, BUT THEN CHEER LAWS & RULES THAT BENEFIT THE OLIGARCHS, PRAISING GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE.

    TOTAL SPENT ON LOBBYING BY TELECOMS IN 2018 – $92,851,826

    LOBBYING BY THE TELECOM INDUSTRY JUMPED BY OVER 71 PERCENT PRIOR TO THE FCC’S DECISION.

    THE TELECOM INDUSTRY IS THE 11TH ALL-TIME LARGEST SPENDER ON LOBBYING.

    AT&T, VERIZON, T-MOBILE, COMCAST, WARNER, SPECTRUM, GOOGLE, NETFLIX, AND OTHER GIANTS IN THE BROADER INTERNET/TECH INDUSTRIES ARE ALL LARGELY OWNED BY THE SAME FIRMS…FIRMS WHICH ARE IN TURN LARGELY OWNED BY THE SAME CORPORATE LORDS, WHOM HAVE BECOME RICH VIA SUCCESSFUL LOBBYING FOR SPECIAL-INTEREST LEGISLATION.

    THAT IS NOT LIBERTARIANISM.

    “The last thing abandoned by a party is its phraseology, because among political parties, as elsewhere, the
    vulgar make the language, and the vulgar abandon more easily the ideas that have been instilled into it than the
    words that it has learnt.”
    -Alexis de Tocqueville-
    France Before The Consulate, Chapter I: “How the Republic was ready to accept a master”, in Memoir,
    Letters, and Remains, Vol I (1862), p. 266

  23. Love how these articles always bring out the redditards who don’t understand how data transport works.

    1. Can I BitTorrent hentai without being throttled?

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  26. Meanwhile I read this at 1.5 Mbps DSL billed for twice that but at the last mile.

    1. Move to the city and learn to code.

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  28. “Other key findings of the report include the following, based on data through the end of 2017:

    The number of Americans with access to 100 Mbps/10Mpbs fixed broadband
    increased by nearly 20%, from 244.3 million to 290.9 million.

    The number of Americans with access to 250 Mbps/50 Mbps fixed broadband grew by
    over 45%, to 205.2 million, and the number of rural Americans with access to such
    service more than doubled.”

    Seriously, we’re supposed to believe these numbers?

    1. Why not?

      Basically EVERYWHERE that cable is rolled out has 100Mbps connections… And most of the country has cable rolled out from back when people used it for TV… So what’s not to believe? DSL is available in a great many places too, and since fiber has been getting put into backbone infrastructure for a good long while now, you can get reasonable speed DSL (but not quite 100 Mbps) in a shit ton of areas too.

      There ARE places so stickish they don’t have that, hence the other few tens of millions of people they say DON’T have access.

  29. I agree net neutrality is not good for the country, but this article is deceiving.

    Net neutrality was repealed at the end of 2017. There’s no way the improvements between 2016 and 2017 are a cause of the legislation change as any regulation change takes a while to be translated in results.

    To demonstrate any causality between data and events we would to compare data for 2018. I love this magazine but honestly I’d expect more from an article in a medium named Reason.

  30. Everywhere except Dolan Springs Arizona imagine living in the stone age 2 Mbps download and 0.35 Mbps up…

  31. I’m calling BS on the Chairman and the FCC. They repealed the net neutrality because the Telecom industry told them to. Him saying that Net Neutrality was not needed is like a slap in the face to every American that has internet. With all of the class action lawsuits against At&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cox to name a few about deceptive business practices, overcharging, and throttling of data. How can he possibly believe the market would take care of it on its own? Easy, he got paid off or pressured to negate Net Neutrality. I live in a rural area and when I moved in a year and a half ago I had 2 choices for internet, Dial-up or satellite. This isnt the 80’s anymore. I went with satellite because it was the best option of the 2. I paid $150 a month for less than 10Mbps download speeds, 700ms latency and a 50Gb data cap, thats with Hughesnet Gen5 too. Please tell me how you got an average of 107Mbps download when over 30 million people in the US in Rural areas have this slow of an internet? There are no plans to get cable or fiber optic anywhere near my house. Luckily i was able to get a new fixed wireless service but it still caps out at 10MBps download speed for the same price as satellite. I find the FCC a useless piece of government bureaucracy since they are NOT protecting the consumer but rather the business and corporate interests.

    1. Jesus. As i said above, anywhere you can get CABLE has 100 Mbps + speeds generally. Cable has been getting rolled out SINCE THE 70s. MANY places have it, including pretty damn rural ones.

      There are some places that don’t, and don’t have rippin’ DSL either. Why should they?

      I’ve lived in a small town, and not having fast internet sucked. But it wasn’t the end of the world. And I KNEW that was the case. Explain to me why a company should lose money to install unprofitable infrastructure just so YOU can live where you want and get service provided at a loss? Why should the government subsidize such activities, and make ME pay for it via taxes? It’s like spending 100 million building a bridge to some pointless spot where 15 people live. It doesn’t make sense.

      I may be moving to a rural area again, but I wouldn’t expect some poor sod living elsewhere to subsidize my internet.

    2. Nothing that you wrote here is accurate.

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  33. WOW.

    Net speed is very important for productivity.

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