Wednesday, July 05, 2017

50 million US homes have only one 25Mbps Internet provider or none at all | Ars Technica

50 million US homes have only one 25Mbps Internet provider or none at all | Ars Technica: More than 10.6 million US households have no access to wired Internet service with download speeds of at least 25Mbps, and an additional 46.1 million households live in areas with just one provider offering those speeds, a new analysis has found. That adds up to more than 56 million households lacking any high-speed broadband choice over wired connections. Even when counting access to fixed wireless connections, there are still nearly 50 million households with one 25Mbps provider or none at all.

The data comes from a report by researchers who evaluated Federal Communications Commission data in order to shed more light on broadband deployment, or lack thereof. The FCC's own reports on this data show the percentage of developed census blocks that have ISPs offering broadband at various speeds. The researchers attempted to improve upon that analysis by comparing the census block information to household data from the US Census Bureau's 2015 American Community Survey in order to determine how many homes have or don't have high-speed broadband access.

This analysis continues the misguided view that telecommunications infrastructure is a competitive market and therefore something is wrong if premises don't have multiple landline services from which they can obtain Internet protocol-based services. It is not a competitive market. Due to high cost barriers to entry that discourage competition, it functions as a natural monopoly like other utilities such as electric power, water and natural gas. It's not economic to have multiple power, water and gas lines serving a given customer premise. Driving this view is the notion that IP-based telecommunications is a "broadband" service and not infrastructure.

The analysis also incorporates a speed-based definition of service. The definition derives from a dearth of fiber to the premise (FTTP) infrastructure in the United States. Internet service providers rely on metallic cable landline plant and radio spectrum that offer considerably less bandwidth capacity than FTTP. Hence, bandwidth is constrained and throughput speed rather than infrastructure tends to define what constitutes good service. FTTP infrastructure rather than throughput speed is a far better metric and avoids the constant need to redefine a speed-based standard as bandwidth demand continues its inexorable growth.

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