Roughly 19 million Americans still don't have broadband Internet, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Communications Commission.
This is the eighth year that the FCC has issued the report, which is a requirement of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. And for the third year in a row, the agency has found that broadband service is not being rolled out in a "reasonable and timely fashion." Still, the report sees an improvement over the year before, when the FCC found that 26 million Americans lacked broadband.
About 14.5 million of the 19 million Americans without broadband live in rural areas, according to the report. The FCC has been working to remedy the issue. Earlier this year, the FCC converted a $4.5 billion fund for rural telephone service into a fund that will subsidize expansion of broadband access.
And this doesn't just apply to rural areas. There are plenty of people living in metro areas of the U.S. and exurbs lacking fast, dependable wireline Internet connectivity.
After eight years of these reports that basically say the same thing, one might conclude that rural Americans are getting the message that the incumbents aren't going to serve their needs and they'll have to form telecom cooperatives just as their predecessors did several decades ago. As Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance so aptly put it, "Help is NOT on the way." Not unless you and your neighbors help themselves.