Half the U.S. Internet Consumers Choose Not to Buy Service Faster than 25 Mbps

It is easy to misread government reports. A new study on internet access speeds by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has be interpreted by some to show that “half the country can’t get speeds of 25 Mbps.” What the study actually reports is that “half the country chooses not to buy fixed network service at speeds above 25 Mbps.”

In the preamble, the FCC says “For purposes of this report, Internet access connections are those in service.” That means “connections purchased by consumers,” not “service that is available for purchase.”

A separate report by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in 2013 showed that in only 19 percent of locations was there no provider selling service at 25 Mbps or more. If correct, it cannot the case that “half” of U.S. locations cannot buy service at that 25 Mbps level. In fact, 80 percent of locations can buy 25 Mbps service.

source: NTIA

The report also includes both mobile and fixed connections. Few mobile services routinely offer service at faster than 25 Mbps, and mobile connections are the dominant internet access technology (253 million connections) covered by the report, with fixed connections at about 102 million. In other words, mobile now represents 71 percent of internet access connections.

In addition, some 84 percent of fixed network connections operating at 25 Mbps, and purchased by consumers, are provided by cable operators.
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