October 13, 2017
For the past several years, this blog has regularly tracked new private sector investments in broadband infrastructure. We’ve noted that, over the last two decades these companies have spent more than $1.5 trillion to bring more Americans online.
That investment figure comes from US Telecom, the nation’s leading broadband association. That group recently released a study that outlining how these investments have been able to change access rates over the last two decades.
According to the report, which was written by Patrick Brogan, the group’s vice president of industry analysis, as of mid-2016, 96 percent of Americans had at least one wired broadband network platform available to them and 84 percent had at least two wired options. Nearly one-fifth had at least three options available to them. (As a reminder, these figures represent wired broadband only. Consumers also have access to fixed wireless, mobile wireless, and satellite broadband.)
Brogan also looked at access based on speed. He found that 88 percent of households have access to wired speeds of 50 megabits per second (mbps) or less. Sixty-eight percent have access to speeds up to 100 mbps and about 10 percent have access to gigabit speeds. These figures have risen significantly from just a few years ago. In 2010, only 45 percent of Americans had access to 50 mbps speeds and just 10 percent of households could get 100 mbps. No one had gigabit speeds. Brogan notes that “mobile broadband tells a similar story of competitive investment and growth.”
Rural areas do need to catch up, Brogan argues, but speeds and access rates are still growing in these regions. He concludes, “The presence of facilities-based competition is spurring ongoing investment in network upgrades across the nation, and as a result, both fixed and mobile broadband speeds are growing.”
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