Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 27, 2012

Stats on rural broadband – but only if you define broadband as 3 Mbps/768 Kbps

Thanks to Bernadine Joselyn for sending me the heads up on an update on the state of NTIA/RUS/ARRA projects from Fierce Telecom. The article starts with some high level stats…

Since 2009, over $3,525,706,687 in stimulus grants have been disbursed to 258 applicants in two rounds of BTOP funding, according to the NTIA. More than 18,000 miles of new broadband networks have been built out as of November 2011, the Commerce Dept. reported. The money has been used for more than 229 projects so far–beyond building infrastructure, stimulus has funded the creation and improvement of public computer centers, state government development, and sustainable broadband adoption initiatives.

But the article really focuses on the difference between rural and urban access. Fierce Telecom reports…

Last February, Connected Nation’s analysis of NTIA data found that less than 4 percent of counties across the United States–114 of 3,219 counties–met the stated national broadband goal of having speeds of 3 Mbps download and 786 Kbps upload available to residents. About 15 percent, or 474 counties, were in line to meet those speed goals.

A secondary article indicates that there is between a 10-15 percent difference in availability in rural versus urban areas in Minnesota (based on broadband defined at the 3 Mbps/768 Kbps federal standard).

It’s interesting to look at availability in rural areas – but I have to admit that until they are talking about higher speeds, I’m only kind of interested. I’m about as interested as I am in hearing about a job that pays half of what I make now. I’d be hard pressed to knowingly move to an area that boasted 768 K speeds and I’d never start a business there.

What is more promising is the statistics on FTTH build out…

Taking a look at other research statistics, however, shows that momentum for network buildouts has picked up: The Broadband Forum reported that Q3 2011 saw the strongest global growth in Fiber to the Home (FTTH) subscribers since 2009, with the United States adding over 978,000 lines in the quarter to reach 90.5 million lines.


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