NCTA: Cable Broadband Buildouts Are Equitable

Screenshot of FCC broadband map
A screenshot of the FCC’s national broadband map.

Even as the Federal Communications Commission was voting to take concrete steps to combat digital discrimination — including proposing to sanction inadvertent as well as intentional inequities in broadband service — NCTA-The Internet & Television Association said the regulator’s new maps show that the highest of high-speed broadband service is being distributed equitably.

NCTA, the main cable industry group, said that one clear takeaway from the maps, which it concedes are in the early stages of an iterative process, is that gigabit-speed service is being deployed equitably "regardless of income level or racial composition."

NCTA said its analysis confirms that cable operators "have deployed and upgraded high-speed networks within their footprints regardless of demographics, in both urban and rural areas."

Cable critics have long made claims of digital "redlining."

Also: FCC Task Force Draws Line Against Broadband ‘Redlining’

The FCC, at the direction of Congress, created an "all-of-agency" task force to address digital equity issues and also told the FCC it must adopt rules, which is what the FCC proposed to do this week.

But NCTA said its analysis of the FCC data suggests that, at least when it comes to gigabit service, that equity goal is already being achieved without FCC rules.

"There is virtually no difference in cable gigabit availability based on the racial composition of a given area," NCTA said, adding that it was the same with income levels, with similar 95% of all locations having access to gigabit broadband regardless of income or ethnicity.

The "bottom line," NCTA said, is: "[G]overnment data shows that providers have a track record of deploying their fastest services ubiquitously to communities they serve regardless of income level or race.

"While there is more work ahead in connecting remaining unserved communities and bringing broadband to all, smart, targeted funding combined with cable’s decades of experience in building powerful networks throughout our communities can help America bridge the digital divide." ▪️

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.