Between 14 million and 24 million Americans are without broadband Internet access which is detrimental to the US economy as a whole, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
In their Sixth Broadband Deployment Report, the FCC said that “immediate prospects for deployment” to these tens of millions of US residents without broadband are “bleak.”
Many of those without high-speed Internet live in poor and rural areas in North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky. It would be expensive to develop and operate broadband there, the FCC said, in its sixth report on the nation's broadband situation since 1996.
Broadband has become an essential part of the American economy, global competitiveness, and enables citizens to participate in the democratic process.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement that “rather than closing the opportunity gap in America, high-speed Internet has the potential to exacerbate it if we don’t make broadband available to all Americans.”
Currently, 65 percent of all Americans have access to broadband in their homes. Approximately 90 percent of residents in Singapore and South Korea currently have home access to broadband.
The report concluded that the deployment of broadband to all Americans was not being met in a “timely way,” contrasting previous reports from the FCC which said they were on track.
“While some say otherwise, we are not where we need to be as a nation when it comes to broadband—not for individuals, not for small businesses, not for jobs and investment, not for schools and students,” Genachowski said.
In March, the commission announced their National Broadband Plan to grow broadband via public-private development partnerships to get high-speed Internet to 90 percent of Americans.
The FCC report also made a significant change as to what qualifies as broadband, shifting the standard from 200 kilobits per second downstream, which was established ten years ago, to a new standard of four megabits per second downstream and one megabit per second upstream.