FCC: 10 percent of Americans still lack access to proper broadband

The problem is especially pronounced in tribal lands, where 41 percent of residents can't get a connection that meets the FCC's definition of "broadband."

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Last week, we reported on the strides Internet services providers in the United States have made to improve broadband connection speeds, but noted how ISPs still have a lot of catching up to do. 

Case in point: As Endgadget reported Friday, a new Federal Communications Comission report shows that as of 2014, roughly 10 percent of Americans still didn’t have access to a broadband Internet connection that meets the FCC’s minimum definition of broadband (25 megabits per second download; 3Mbps upload—a standard that the agency set in early 2015).

But really, it’s a tale of two countries as far as broadband access goes. While only 4 percent of urban residents can’t get a proper broadband connection according to the FCC, a whopping 39 percent of Americans in rural areas lack such access. On tribal lands, the figure jumps to 41 percent.

The FCC downplayed the notion that mobile broadband networks such as LTE can compensate for the lack of wired broadband access in rural areas. “[C]onsumers who rely solely on mobile broadband tend to perform a more limited range of tasks and are significantly more likely to incur additional usage fees or forgo use of the Internet,” the agency wrote in a press release (PDF).

The good news is that things are steadily improving. Not only have broadband speeds increased dramatically in recent years, but broadband’s reach has grown significantly, especially in rural areas. According to the FCC’s data, 20 percent couldn’t get a broadband connection meeting the FCC’s requirements in 2012. (For rural areas, that figure sat at 55 percent in 2012; for tribal lands, it sat at 68 percent.) 

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