Digital Divide Closing, Says FCC

Rural farms in Wisconsin
(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to 2019 data released Thursday (Nov. 12) by the FCC, the number of Americans without access to fixed terrestrial broadband of at least 25/3 Mbps was 14.5 million, a 46% drop from 2016.

Related: Form 477 Data Due

The data was as of Dec. 31, 2019.

“In just three years, the number of American consumers living in areas without access to fixed broadband has been almost cut in half," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "We’ve taken aggressive steps to achieve this progress, modernizing regulations, freeing up new licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and making it easier and cheaper for competitive providers to deploy fiber through our ‘one-touch make ready’ policy."

The number of Americans in areas without broadband speeds of at least 250/25 Mbps fell by 77% since the end of 2016 while the number of rural Americans in areas with 250/25 Mbps service increased by 268%.

Related: FCC Says Broadband Deployment Is on Track

The data is based on the FCC's form 477 data collection, which has come under plenty of criticism from Congress, which passed bipartisan legislation mandating an improved data-collection framework, something the FCC was already in the process of doing.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.