FCC: Internet Access Is Speeding Up

Internet access is on the fast track, with the number of fixed and wireless connections in 2012 with downstream speeds of at least 10 Mbps up 35% over the past year, according to the FCC.

The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau released its latest report on Internet access in the U.S based on data from ISPs over six months ending Dec. 31, 2012.

That includes from cable operators, phone companies, terrestrial wireless providers, satellite providers and other facilities-based providers.

Other highlights include a 14% increase in the number of connections of at least 200 Kbps to 262 million.

By the end of 2012, there were about the same number of fixed (65 million) and mobile (64 million) high speed connections (speeds of at least 3 Mbps downstream and 768 Mbps upstream), with mobile growth outpacing fixed.

The number of mobile connections with speeds of more than 200 Kbps in at least one direction grew by 19% in 2012 to 169 million, compared to a 5% increase in fixed connections of at least that speed to 93 million.

Among the fixed connections, 21% (19.3 million) were slower than 3 Mbps downstream, 16% (15.2 million) were at least 3 Mbps but slower than 6 Mbps and 63% (58 million) were at least 6 Mbps.

The report also estimates the number of households in census tracts where more than one fixed-location provider offers several different speeds. The data showed that 76% of households with broadband access are in tracts with access to at least three providers offering at least 3 Mbps downstream and 200 Kbps upstream, with 70% in tracts where at least three providers were offering at least 3 Mbps downstream and 768 Kbps upstream. When mobile is added in, the percentage for the first category jumps to 98% and 97% for the second.

But the bureau cautioned that since such reports do not necessarily mean those speeds reach every home in the census tract, it does not consider that a measure of competition in broadband service.

The commission suggested it would start getting a better handle on deployment and competition starting in September 2014. Last June it made changes to the data collection form and will assume the responsibility for collecting data on deployment now overseen by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration in conjunction with states. The first filings of new data are due in September 2014.

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.