FCC Report Backs Claims of Digital Divide

Total of 102 million high-speed connections by end of 2008
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According to the FCC's just-released high-speed Internet
report, the first under a new metric, there were a total of 102 million total
high-speed connections, fixed and mobile, residential and business, by the end
of 2008.

By
the FCC's old definition
of minimum high-speed, there had been 132.8
million high-speed connections.

Cable modem service connections were up by 14% in 2008 to 41
million, according to the new report based, for the first time, on census
tract-level figures.

The report also provided evidence for the digital divide.

For the fixed connections, like cable and DSL, the
commission data found that in 200 counties (representing 1% of U.S.
households), no more than 20% met that definition of high speed, while in about
half as many counties (104) with eight times the population (8% of the
households), 80% had at least those speeds.

The commission said the boost in cable's connection numbers
was attributable in part to "more comprehensive" reporting from small
cable systems.

The FCC said it did not have comparables for mobile
broadband, but said that at the end of 2008, 25 million wireless subscribers
had devices--laptops, smart phones--with plans that allowed for Internet
access. That was out of 86 million subs who had devices capable of the minimum
200 kbps upload speeds, but either only had a voice service or a data service
confined to messaging, ring tones and games.

Fixed-service high-speed Internet access connections (by the
high speed definition of 768 Kbps downstream and more than 200 upstream) were
up 10% in 2008 to 77 million, but that was down from the 17% increase the year
before.

According to the new numbers, 49% had downstream of more
than 3 megabits per second, 34% had at least 6 mbps, and 11% had at least 10
mbps, all with upstream of more than 200 kbps.

DSL connections were up 3% in 2008 to 30 million, while
fiber to the home had the biggest jump at 56%. But it was starting from a
relatively small base, so that percentage jump to only 3 million was magnified.

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