with CLIPREVIEWED learn the articleFCC May Be Significantly Overestimating US Gigabit Home Internet Coverage
According to the FCC, the United States has nationwide gigabit internet connections available in nearly all markets. An independent study shows that the US government may be massively overreporting how many people actually have access, though.
The FCC claims that gigabit coverage has increased by 80% over the span of five years, jumping from just 3.9% of Americans in 2016 to 84% in 2020. But an independent study conducted by BroadbandNow estimates that this level of coverage may be off the mark by nearly 30%.
BroadbandNow found that US coverage actually grew from 2.4% in 2016 to just 56% in 2020. The study’s data shows that 115 providers were serving 32 states in 2016—and now, 479 providers claim to offer gigabit connection in all 50 states in 2020.
The discrepancies come down to how the FCC records granular data for individual neighborhoods. Because running fiber cables to individual homes is difficult and expensive, the FCC allows providers to mark a given area as covered as long as one home has service. This creates a gap between reported coverage and plan coverage. One is theoretical (a neighborhood is wired) while the other is actionable (a household is wired).
Unlike the FCC, BroadbandNow takes both types of coverage into account to create what may be a far more realistic depiction of gigabit home internet connections in the United States. To test the FCC’s data, BroadbandNow checked service options for 75 randomly selected addresses across 15 ZIP codes in Texas, Florida, and Ohio and found none of them had an available gigabit plan in 2020.
Gigabit coverage has certainly made progress over the last five years, but connecting households to fiber cables is still a major bottleneck that the industry needs to surpass before anyone can claim that nationwide coverage is real.
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