Washington

FCC: Broadband Deployment Still Not Timely, Reasonable

Chairman says while Docsis' 100 Mbps speed is advertised as "technically" available to 80%, only 27% of Americans being offered those speeds today 8/21/2012 12:37:50 PM Eastern

The FCC has once again concluded that broadband is not being
deployed in a reasonable and timely manner, suggesting that mark won't be hit
until there is 100% penetration. That conclusion did not sit well with the FCC
Republicans, who dissented from the findings.

That
came in its latest 706 Report,
which is a congressionally mandated report
on the state of advanced communications deployment.

Republicans Robert McDowell and Ajit Pai dissented from the
conclusion, the third year the commission has come up with that answer based on
the number of still-unserved people and the third year the commission's
Republicans -- formerly McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker -- have dissented.

While the report finds that there have been significant and
substantial steps taken by the public and private industry to accelerate
deployment, it cites the approximately 19 million Americans "in areas
still unserved by terrestrial-fixed broadband" and concludes that for
that, and "other reasons," it must conclude "that broadband is
not yet being deployed to ‘all Americans' in a reasonable and timely fashion."

That came despite the report's detailing of the major
strides cable operators and others have made toward deployment and adoption,
including "billions invested by the communications industry in broadband
deployment, including next-generation wired and wireless services"
and  "expansion of networks technically capable of 100 megabit-plus
speeds to over 80 percent of the population through cable's DOCSIS 3.0
rollout."

In his statement on the report, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
suggested that there was still a big gap between that 80% availability and
actual speeds. "Industry reports that the upgrade of cable infrastructure
to DOCSIS 3.0 technology means that more than 80% of Americans have access to
networks technically capable of 100 Mbps or more," he said, "[b]ut
our data show that just 27% of Americans are being offered broadband services
at those speeds today, and U.S. prices for these higher speed services exceed
many other countries."

Senior Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell said that broadband
rollout had been "swift and strong," and said he was disappointed
that, yet again, the majority had "decided to clutch to its earlier negative
findings."

The report talks about the advances in mobile wireless, but still does not include that deployment in the standard for meeting the "reaonable and timely" benchmark. A separate notice of inquiry issued with the report asks whether it should be included in future reports. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, for one, is a definite "yes" for that change.

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