United States telecoms regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has revealed that as many as 19 million US citizens still lack some form of broadband connectivity. The findings were disclosed in the watchdog’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report, issued under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 706 requires the FCC to report annually on ‘whether advanced telecommunications capability (ATC) is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion’. Introducing the report, the FCC writes: ‘Over the past year, the private and public sectors have taken significant and substantial steps to accelerate the deployment and availability of broadband … The Commission adopted transformative changes to the high-cost universal service programme to propel deployment of broadband networks and initiated a ‘Lifeline’ pilot to promote broadband adoption by low-income Americans. Implementation of these changes is underway. But as of now, our analysis of the best data available — the data collected by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for the National Broadband Map — shows that approximately 19 million Americans live in areas still un-served by terrestrial-fixed broadband. For these and other reasons, we must conclude that broadband is not yet being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.’
In 2011’s Seventh Broadband Progress Report the FCC found that as many as 26 million Americans lived in areas un-served by broadband, noting: ‘Many of these Americans live in areas where there is no business case to offer broadband, and where existing public efforts to extend broadband are unlikely to reach; they have no immediate prospect of being served, despite the growing costs of digital exclusion’.