Study Offers Insights to Broadband Expansion Plan

By Paul Darin
Paul Darin
Paul Darin
December 30, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Fiber-optic cable can support more traffic, and U.S. Internet users need the added bandwidth. (Michael Smith/Getty Images)
Fiber-optic cable can support more traffic, and U.S. Internet users need the added bandwidth. (Michael Smith/Getty Images)
While Americans spend an increasing amount of time online, our networks may not be big enough to support the growing trend.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently developing a National Broadband Plan to deal with the discrepancy. The FCC has been studying the broadband strategies of countries all over the world to see how the U.S. could best distribute this technology here.

While much of the debate has focused on examining network performance, a recent study from broadband trade association USTelecom offers insight into actual consumer Internet usage. USTelecom (a broadband trade association for the telecommunications industry) sent a letter with its findings to the FCC last week.

Using Internet traffic data from Cisco's Visual Networking Index, the study finds that in 2009 that the U.S. consumes more bandwidth per user than Germany, Italy, the U.K. or Japan. Meanwhile, Japan is equipped with a system of fiber optic lines that can support heavy online traffic.

In some examples, a government pays to install a large network, but people and service providers don’t take advantage of the infrastructure.

In the U.S., the infrastructure may not be as large, but people and service providers are more attuned to consumer usage. As the FCC plans for network expansion in an effort to provide a larger population easier access to the Internet, these findings may make for more efficient use of resources to meet this goal.

The first of the recommendations and a key piece of the plan is expansion of broadband in poor and rural areas. This also includes expansion of wireless networks throughout these areas, and the country at large. The FCC is also looking into unlicensed and underused frequencies which could be harnessed to expand broadband service.

The FCC is due to submit the final conditions of the plan to congress in February 2010.