The Broader Reach of Broadband

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

The Broader Reach of Broadband

Landline Broadband ReachANPI considers quality high speed broadband as critical to the growth of Unified Communications and more generally IP communications. A report released last week by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council describes the improvement in access, speed and to some extent price over the last four years in the U.S. The Four Years of Broadband Growth report offers several insights into the increase of broadband across America. The report is best viewed as combining two subjects; landline broadband and wireless broadband. Therefore, today I want to provide insight into landline with wireless to follow either Thursday or next Monday.

I have written several blogs over the years discussing the objectives of the Recovery Act to support telecommunications job development and broadband expansion. A total of $6.9 billion was set aside to support improving broadband infrastructure with $2.5 billion allocated to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). To date the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program has awarded $1.4 billion to 105 projects in 37 states and one territory. The non-rural awards are managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure as well as support public computer centers and encourage consumer adoption of broadband. The NTIA has invested $2.8 billion in over 220 projects in every state, territory and the District of Columbia.

Broadband growth and availability is summarized as:

  • In 2000, 4.4% of American households had a home connection to broadband; growing to 68% by 2010
  • Broadband networks with a speed of >10 mbps now reach more than 94% of homes.
  • Average delivered broadband speeds have doubled since 2009. In 2012, North America’s average mobile data connection speed was 2.6 Mbps, the fastest in the world, nearly twice that available in Western Europe, and over five times the global average.
  • Annual investment in U.S. wireless networks grew more than 40% from $21 billion to $30 billion, between 2009 and 2012, while wireless investment in Asia rose only 4% and investment in Europe was flat.
  • There are over 500 million Internet connected devices now in American homes and businesses.

The report acknowledges it is time to change the definition of broadband again. The current definition is 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps up upstream with some regulatory definitions a bit higher. For most uses of the Internet and IP enabled applications this is the minimum required speed. Today, 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream will support video streaming and the other applications IP enable devices may be executing in the home. While 91% of rural and 99.9% of urban users have access to the initial definition of broadband, if the new definition of 10Mbps/1Mbps is accepted, then only 74% of rural residents will meet the minimum. Urban access drops but only to 99.1%.

My analysis regarding broadband adoption always includes three things Access, Speed and Price (ASP). Thursday I will cover the third leg of the stool, price for landline broadband. Next week I’ll cover the growth and plans for wireless broadband.

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