The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to release a report stating that the broadband market is not bringing high speed internet services to Americans quick enough. The FCC credits the industry with doing a good job expanding broadband, but it is not reaching all Americans. The FCC has examined this issue five times in the past, and this is the first time this determination has been made.The FCC's National Broadband Plan, released in early 2010, stated that between 14 million and 24 million Americans do not have access to broadband. The plan makes two recommendations to close this gap:
- Tap into the federal fund which subsidizes telephone service in poor and rural areas to pay for internet service
- Release more spectrum for wireless internet services - especially in rural areas
Two significant changes in the way the FCC measures broadband access are evident in this report: raising the speed requirement for a service to be called broadband, and using much smaller geographical units in its measurements.
When examining the contents of the report, the findings are really not too surprising. While investment in broadband networks continues to increase, very little is being done to address the issues that cause low adoption rate.
For a list of broadband adoption rate issues click here
Broadband service providers typically do little to address issues such as affordability and digital literacy training, because these are not profit centers. Subsidizing the costs of internet service plans and computer equipment for low-income customers does not provide adequate return on investment for the large broadband service providers like Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner. Providing digital literacy training and increasing awareness of the benefits of broadband also does not equal the profit gained from a full-paying digitally literate customer.
Although training and subsidizing the cost of internet service plans and computer equipment does create new customers, the learning curve and costs of creating this type of customer is not what the large broadband providers have come to expect. Having to work that hard for new customers is just not how the broadband industry has operated.Image © Getty Images