Faster Broadband, Reaching More

By Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative, NTIA, US Department of Commerce

Access to high-speed Internet has become a necessity for communities and businesses, and the latest data from the National Broadband Map shows that broadband continues to be available to more Americans than ever.

Broadband drives economic growth and innovation – including advances in health care, education, and public safety. Since its launch in 2011, the National Broadband Map has been helping businesses and consumers access broadband by detailing where and what types of high-speed Internet services are available in their communities.

Considering wireline and wireless technologies together, the slowest broadband speeds are nearly ubiquitously available, and access to very fast broadband (over 100 Mbps) has now reached two-thirds of Americans. The data, as of December 31, 2013, shows that 99 percent of Americans have access to wired and/or wireless broadband at advertised speeds of 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps up, though this number drops to 89 percent when considering wireline broadband alone.

After a huge jump between December 2010 and December 2011, the data continues to show a steady increase – primarily attributable to an upgrade in existing cable systems – in the number of communities and businesses that now can access broadband with speeds of at least 100 Mbps. Check out the data yourself below and on the National Broadband Map website, where you can analyze data, look at differences in rural and urban availability and see the differences by technology and speed.  All historical data is also available on NTIA’s website or via API.
Combined Broadband Speeds (Wireline and Wireless): June 2010 – December 2013

Combined Speeds ≥ 3 Mbps/768 kbps –  < 6 Mbps ≥ 6 / 1.5  < 10 Mbps ≥ 6 – < 10 Mbps ≥ 10 – < 25 Mbps ≥ 25 – < 50 Mbps ≥ 50 – < 100 Mbps ≥ 100 Mbps – < 1 Gbps ≥ 1 Gbps +
Jun-10 95.49% n/a 90.33% 85.37% 49.79% 46.11% 10.54% 1.06%
Dec-10 97.13% n/a 93.28% 88.77% 58.70% 50.79% 13.83% 1.94%
Jun-11 98.26% n/a 94.12% 90.97% 63.66% 54.57% 26.84% 1.74%
Dec-11 96.65% n/a 95.54% 93.48% 74.06% 69.44% 44.27% 2.01%
Jun-12 98.18% n/a 96.17% 94.39% 78.51% 75.15% 47.09% 3.17%
Dec-12 98.75% 96.20% 97.53% 96.55% 82.88% 79.76% 52.07% 6.69%
Jun-13 99.03% 97.75% 98.35% 97.84% 83.22% 80.52% 57.05% 8.97%
Dec-13 99.33% 98.74% 99.01% 98.76% 85.66% 82.79% 62.55% 6.78%

Wireline Broadband Speeds: June 2010 – December 2013

Wireline Speeds ≥ 3 Mbps/768 kbps –  < 6 Mbps ≥ 6 / 1.5  < 10 Mbps ≥ 6 – < 10 Mbps ≥ 10 – < 25 Mbps ≥ 25 – < 50 Mbps ≥ 50 – < 100 Mbps ≥ 100 Mbps – < 1 Gbps ≥ 1 Gbps +
Jun-10 90.25% n/a 89.08% 84.81% 49.31% 45.90% 10.36% n/a
Dec-10 90.25% n/a 89.08% 84.81% 49.31% 45.90% 10.36% n/a
Jun-11 92.47% n/a 91.87% 89.12% 63.33% 54.26% 26.57% 1.64%
Dec-11 93.40% n/a 92.56% 90.57% 73.63% 68.93% 43.85% 2.01%
Jun-12 93.41% n/a 92.81% 90.91% 78.11% 74.85% 46.87% 3.17%
Dec-12 93.92% 88.93% 93.35% 91.79% 82.51% 79.47% 51.80% 6.68%
Jun-13 93.10% 89.24% 92.65% 91.26% 82.79% 80.14% 56.68% 8.89%
Dec-13 93.39% 89.23% 92.90% 91.54% 83.84% 81.99% 59.84% 6.60%
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Working to Provide a Better National Broadband Map

By Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative,

Since its launch in 2011, the National Broadband Map, a joint project of NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has been providing key data on where broadband is available throughout the country and who is providing it. Today, we’re rolling out the seventh edition of the map. In addition to providing updated data, the latest version of the broadband map includes some enhancements such as a more detailed summary page for each state as well as additional information about broadband providers and their subsidiaries.

The latest data, from June 30, 2013, shows the country continues to make steady progress in expanding access to broadband. Most Americans have access to wired broadband (93 percent), while 98 percent have access to wireless broadband at the most basic broadband speed, defined at 3 Megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 768 kilobits per second (kbps) up. The data also show that 99 percent of the U.S. population has access to this basic broadband through either a wired or wireless service. Here are other highlights from the latest data:

  • 98 percent of Americans have access to broadband at combined speeds of 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream – a slight boost from the December 2012 figure of 96 percent.
  • 83 percent of the population has access to broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps – a big jump from the 50 percent of the population who had access to broadband at this speed when we began collecting data in June 2010.
  • 57 percent of the population has access to broadband speeds of 100 Mbps or more, compared with only 10 percent in June 2010.
  • 8.9 percent of the population has access to 1 Gigabit per second service, as of June 2013, compared with only 1 percent in June 2010. A number of 1 gigabit services are primarily intended for businesses.
  • A large majority – 87 percent – have access to cable providers for broadband, while a quarter of the country can access broadband through a fiber connection.
  • Despite increases in access, rural areas and tribal lands still lag significantly behind urban communities in broadband availability. Nearly all Americans living in urban areas have access to broadband service with a download speed of at least 10 Mbps compared to rural areas where broadband service is available to only 89 percent. On tribal lands, basic wired broadband is available to 54 percent of the population, which is an increase from 45 percent in June 2011.

As we’ve noted previously, our data provides granular information about where broadband is located, who provides it and the maximum speeds they advertise at that location. It does not include information about data caps, price or contract terms or other variables that a consumer or small business may consider before determining if a broadband package meets their needs. We encourage anyone interested in combining this information with other data points or interesting variables to use or download the data.

 

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New Broadband Map Data Shows Progress, But Work Remains

Two and a half years ago, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) launched an interactive online map that shows what high-speed Internet services are available to every neighborhood in the country.

This week, we are updating the dataset underlying the National Broadband Map (NBM) for the sixth time since it was established in early 2011 in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and partners in every state and territory.

The new data – current as of Dec. 31, 2012 – reveals what types of technology and speeds are available from more than 2,000 telecommunications companies nationwide.And it confirms that we are making steady progress as a nation in ensuring that all Americans have access to at least a basic level of broadband.

As of the end of 2012, nearly 99 percent of Americans had access to broadband speeds of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 Kbps upstream through either wired or wireless service. And 96 percent had access to broadband speeds of 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream – speeds that will soon be considered a basic requirement for accessing many online services. Moreover, nearly 90 percent of Americans had access to 4G wireless broadband, defined as service with download speeds of at least 6 Mbps, as of the end of 2012. That’s up from 81 percent in June 2012 and just under 26 percent in June 2010.

But the map data also make clear that there is still more work to be done – particularly when it comes to building out the advanced, high-capacity telecommunications networks that our nation needs to compete and succeed in the global digital economy.

Of the 2,083 providers in the latest update, 1,618 offer basic broadband speeds of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream, and 1,018 offer broadband speeds of 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream. But only 200 offer 100-megabit connections.

What’s more, the number of Americans with access to fiber to the premises was just above 23 percent as of the end of 2012, compared with just above 20 percent as of June 2012. And only 6.7 percent of Americans have gigabit connections in their neighborhoods.

The new data also underscore the significant broadband gap that still separates urban and rural communities. The data show that while nearly all urban communities (99.6 percent) had access to download speeds of at least 10 Mbps as of the end of 2012, just under 84 percent of rural communities did. And while 88 percent of rural communities had access to download speeds of 6 Mbps, only 83 percent of rural communities had access to 6 Mbps download speeds and 1.5 Mbps upload speeds.

The National Broadband Map is built on the most extensive set of broadband availability data ever collected. Government agencies and non-profits at the state level gather the information from multiple sources, including the carriers themselves, and then carefully verify and correct it. NTIA and the FCC then compile the data for the national map.

Since it was launched, the map has drawn more than 1 million unique visitors and over 100 million requests for the underlying data, which is updated twice a year. Stakeholders can contact NTIA or our state partners – directly through the map’s website at www.broadbandmap.gov – to help us improve and refine the information.

We designed the map for many different types of users. Consumers can use it to pull up a list of local broadband providers, along with details about the type of Internet connections they provide and the speeds they offer. Economic developers and real estate agents can use it to market particular communities to businesses and residents looking for cutting-edge telecommunications services.

Researchers and academics can use the map to figure out which states, counties and census blocks have the fastest Internet connections, and to compare those findings with all sorts of demographic data, such as race and income. And policy makers can use the map to figure out where to target their efforts to close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to broadband.

Most of all, we created the map to serve as an important source of information about the state of the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure in today’s world as we prepare for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.

Anne Neville
Director, State Broadband Initiative
NTIA

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Breaking Down the Urban-Rural Broadband Divide

While broadband availability has expanded for all parts of the United States, NTIA data has consistently shown that urban areas have greater access to broadband at faster speeds than rural areas. In a new report released today, NTIA and the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) delve deeper into the differences between broadband availability in rural and urban areas.

This latest report is part of a series from NTIA that examines broadband availability data in greater detail. One key finding of the new report suggests that, in many cases, the closer a community lies to a central city, the more likely it is to have access to broadband at higher speeds. This is significant because some lower-density communities are located closer to the central city of a metropolitan area and have more access to faster broadband speeds than higher- density communities that are more distant from a central city.

Continue reading on the NTIA blog.

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NTIA Explores Broadband Availability in New Report Series

Today, NTIA is pleased to introduce a new set of reports, the Broadband Briefs series, that use publicly available data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce to examine broadband availability in greater detail. This report further examines improvements in broadband availability by speed, technology and location since 2010. NTIA noted in January that most Americans (98 percent) now have access to basic broadband service, and this report explores the change in availability over the last two years – and the consistency with which broadband speeds are now available across the country.

Since June 2010, broadband availability at all speed levels has increased and basic broadband service is nearly universal in urban areas. While there is still a gap in broadband availability between urban and rural areas, 91 percent of rural Americans have access to basic broadband service as of June 2012. NTIA has been working to address gaps in availability and increase demand for services throughout the country through its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), while the Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) has targeted rural areas in particular. Both programs were part of a 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act initiative aimed at expanding broadband access and adoption. NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI) has also supported broadband expansion and adoption, state and local planning and capacity-building activities.

While basic broadband service – which we define as advertised speeds of 3 Mbps download and 768 kbps upload – is often adequate for sending and receiving email and other services, more of today’s applications such as video streaming require much faster speeds. Across the country, broadband availability at higher speed levels has increased significantly since 2010, with the greatest gains in urban areas. Our data show that 88 percent of urban areas and 41 percent of rural areas now have access to broadband speeds of 25 Mpbs. While they have yet to match the speeds available from wired services, access to wireless broadband services also has increased dramatically from 2010 to 2012, moving us closer to meeting President Obama’s goal of extending advanced 4G wireless coverage to 98 percent of Americans.

Other highlights from the Broadband Brief include:

  • Changes: Between June 2010 and June 2012, national broadband availability increased at all advertised speed levels. During both years, the greatest rates of change occurred in the higher speed tiers, beginning with the 25 Mbps or greater tier. The percentage of Americans with access to broadband with speeds of 25 Mbps or greater has grown from nearly 50 percent in 2010 to more than 78 percent in 2012.
  • Technologies: Cable is the primary technology that providers use to offer services of at least 25 Mbps or greater but less than 1 Gbps. At 3/768, 87 percent of the population has access to broadband via cable, 74 percent get this type of broadband from DSL providers and 20 percent get this broadband from fiber deployments.
  • Rural/Urban: Almost 100 percent of urban residents have access to download speeds of at least 6 Mbps, while 82 percent of rural communities can access these speeds.
  • Counties: In almost 59 percent (1,896) of U.S. counties, at least 95 percent of the population has access to speeds of 3/768; and in just under 10 percent (317) of counties, at least 95 percent of the population has access at 25 Mbps.

In the two-year period we examined for this report, it is clear that broadband providers have made significant progress in expanding broadband availability at both the lower and higher end of the speed spectrum. However, we still have a great deal of work to do to ensure that all Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital economy. Here at NTIA, we’ll continue to lead as the President’s principal advisor on telecommunications and information policy issues and through BTOP, SBI, our work in meeting the President’s goal of freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband, and our many policy and research activities. Over the summer, we’ll also update the National Broadband Map (NBM) with data as of December 31, 2012, and publish additional Broadband Briefs that examine other facets of broadband availability.

The report is available at: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/report/2013/us-broadband-availability-june–2010-june–2012

About the Data: This report uses data from the June 30, 2012, SBI dataset, which is the same data that currently populates the NBM, as well as historical data from June 2010 and June 2011. NTIA, in collaboration with the FCC, and in partnership with all 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia, updates the SBI data and publishes the NBM twice a year. This report uses data available on the Data Download and Developer sections of the NBM, including the Analyze Table and the Popular Reports.

This blog is cross posted on NTIA’s website at: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/blog/2013/ntia-explores-broadband-availability-new-report-series.

Anne Neville
Director, State Broadband Initiative
NTIA

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Two Years and Five Updates for the National Broadband Map

Nearly two years ago, NTIA launched the National Broadband Map, and today we are updating it, as we have every six months since its inception. The map provides the first-ever detailed datasets of broadband availability across the country, and it would not be possible without a unique partnership between the federal government, states, and the voluntary participation of many broadband providers.

With funding from NTIA, made available by the Recovery Act, each state undertook a massive effort to locate broadband availability by census block, essentially dividing the country into more than 11 million distinct areas. A census block is the smallest unit of geography for which population or other data are available, and on average has a population of about 28 people. With these data, we can now see change at a granular and national level every six months.

The results of the latest data collection, current as of June 30, 2012, are now online. The Map offers many ways to use the data. Try comparing different regions of the country or viewing data for a single provider. Many national statistics are also available in the reports. Here you will see that 98 percent of Americans now have access to wired or wireless broadband at advertised download speeds of at least 3 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 768 kbps. However, only 93 percent of Americans have access to these basic broadband speeds through wired services. Today, 81 percent of the country has access to wireless speeds of at least 6 Mbps, leaving us only 17 percentage points away from reaching the President’s goal of ensuring that 98 percent of Americans have access to 4G services.

Creating this dataset is no small feat. States use information from broadband providers, public data, and third-party datasets to develop a baseline statewide broadband availability dataset. This is challenging work. Data exist in many different formats and each grantee must standardize the information without harming its integrity. In some cases, the data does not currently exist, requiring field and engineering work to gather the data.

Next – and often most time consuming – grantees must review the data, comparing information sources, including on-the-ground knowledge discovered through public meetings, inquiries by phone and email, and third-party datasets and field verification, such as drive testing. This process allows grantees to verify the baseline dataset, and it sometimes also demonstrates that data are incorrect and need to be changed before sending them to NTIA.

Every six months, the states send more than 20 million combined records to NTIA. Because geography and population are different in every state, every grantee has a unique plan, primarily drawn from a set of common elements, for verifying data. Because this type of large-scale data collection had never been undertaken before, we all continue to identify and refine the most cost-effective and efficient methods for collecting and maintaining this information. If you would like to learn more about the methods each grantee uses, please see the Data Download page on the National Broadband Map. You can also contact the grantee in your state to find out other ways to engage.

Thanks to everyone involved in making this map a success. As always, please tell us how you are using the map and the data, ask us questions, or provide suggestions for improvement.

Anne Neville
Director, State Broadband Initiative
NTIA

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The National Broadband Map Is Updated

Today we again updated the National Broadband Map, the unprecedented interactive map that shows what high-speed Internet service is available in the United States. The map is powered by a new set of data from 1,865 broadband providers nationwide – more than 20 million records – and displays where broadband is available, the name of the provider, the technology used to provide the service, and the maximum advertised speeds of the service.

Since its launch last year, the National Broadband Map has attracted more than 650,000 users who are employing the map to meet a variety of needs. For example:

  • The map is helping consumers and small businesses who are unaware of their broadband options. In Utah, for instance, a mid-sized company in the health care field was losing time and money due to frequent broadband outages at a rural office. The company considered moving these jobs to their headquarters in an urban location. However the company was able to use the National Broadband Map to identify other broadband providers in this rural county – and retain hundreds of jobs in this rural area.
  • Businesses are using the map to identify and analyze potential employment locations. For instance, the Kansas Department of Commerce and a customer service company used the map to identify communities with the broadband necessary to support home-based workers. As a result, the customer service company hired about 200 workers in the state, providing much-needed jobs in small towns that may have otherwise been overlooked for this work. Similarly, an online training company used the map to identify South Dakota towns where they can locate new offices, which will support more than 100 professional jobs in these rural locations
  • The map has supported academic research at more than 1,000 colleges and universities and been used by more than 500 city and county governments. And developers are using the data from the map to create new applications. In the past nine months, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been called more than 20 million times.

Of course, these are just a few examples. We would like to hear how you are using the map too.

Lynn Chadwick, Acting Director
State Broadband Initiative

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New Data for the National Broadband Map

Just over a year ago, we unveiled the National Broadband Map – an unprecedented, interactive map that shows what high-speed Internet services are available in the United States. Powered by a searchable database of more than 20 million records, the map is the most extensive set of U.S. broadband availability data ever published. Our partners in the states collect new data every six months from nearly 1,800 broadband providers nationwide. Just as we did last September, today we area gain updating the map with the latest information.

The map has proven a valuable tool to a wide range of stakeholders, including consumers,researchers, policymakers, local planning officials, and application developers. Broadband drives economic growth and innovation – including advances in health care, education, and public safety – so data on America’s broadband capabilities is of increasing importance, especially as we work to close the digital divide.

Our goal remains to provide the most accurate information available. To make this possible, states are using a variety of best practices to validate data before providing it for the map. For example, the Missouri team uses a combination of techniques, including hitting the road to verify infrastructure, and comparing information supplied by broadband providers to third-party datasets, public data, and surveys the team conducts throughout the state. Utah uses similar methods, and has also conducted 9,300 miles of drive tests over in order to assess and validate mobile broadband availability and performance.

You can help too: our crowdsourcing feature enables you to confirm the accuracy of data or let us know if you spot an error. Just type in an address into the search bar and then select “expand all” to see your options for providing feedback. We pass this information back to the states to help with future data collections.

As always, we are interested in how the map is used – and sometimes it is in practical ways that we hadn’t even imagined. Let us know about your experience.

Anne Neville
Director of NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative

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The National Broadband Map Goes Mobile

This week we are happy to announce a new feature of the National Broadband Map that will make it easier to use on your mobile device. This new feature allows anyone on the go to more easily search broadband availability, summarize and rank data, and view a map of community anchor institutions — all optimized for their mobile device

The mobile browser version of the National Broadband Map is designed to provide a clean, intuitive experience on the screen size of a smartphone. Users swipe across panels of information and can always access additional information by sliding the footer panel up. A convenient sharing panel is also available at the top of each page.

Users are now able to search for local broadband data with their smart phones’ GPS capabilities, if available. Traditional search is also supported, and the results are presented in a new format for mobile devices: in search results, just tap on a broadband provider to see further details and to access our crowdsource voting links.

The Community Anchor Institutions map is the first map we are deploying for a mobile environment. Tap “Search” to enter an address and find the 25 closest facilities. The map will zoom to the request location, and each point will offer information about the facility and any known broadband service details. Watch for additional maps to be included in the future.

Developers will be interested to know that we use the jQuery Mobile framework, and users will appreciate a wide range of supported mobile browsers (see: jquerymobile.com/gbs/).To use the mobile interface, simply visit www.broadbandmap.gov with your mobile device, and it will appear automatically. Links to the complete desktop version are always available on the page footer.

We hope National Broadband Map users will find these improvements helpful and that the information available on the National Broadband Map will now be even more accessible to everyone.

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The National Broadband Map Gets an Update

Earlier this year, we launched a ground-breaking interactive online map that shows what high-speed Internet services are available across the country. Like the spread of railroads and electrification spurred new economic opportunities during America’s past, broadband is supporting new economic opportunities in America today. Experts agree that we must better understand where sufficient broadband exists in order to address where it does not.

The National Broadband Map, powered by a searchable database of more than 20 million records, has already drawn more than 500,000 different users. Today we are rolling out the first significant update of the map since it was unveiled in February. The map has new data, current as of December 31. And the number of broadband providers supplying that data has increased to 1,731, up from 1,650 at launch.

Most of these new additions are small providers, including rural companies in places as varied as Alaska and Massachusetts, that may not be household names. Including them in the map will help ensure that consumers shopping for broadband service are aware of all their options.

In addition, the map now offers a new research tool that produces snapshots of individual broadband providers, showing where they offer service, what speeds they offer, and how much of the country – or of a particular state or county – they cover.

The map is an ambitious, unprecedented undertaking – the result of the most extensive set of American broadband availability data ever published – and it is only possible because of a unique federal-state-private partnership. NTIA created and is updating the map twice yearly in collaboration with the FCC, using data that every state, territory, and the District of Columbia (or their designees) collects from broadband providers or other sources.

Together with our grantees in the states, we continue working to make the data an even stronger tool for users. For example, we provide technical assistance to the grantees to help them address challenges that arise in the field. And grantees have developed best practice methodologies in many areas, such as evaluating changes in provider participation, defining classes of broadband technology, and reflecting satellite coverage.

In addition, the public is using the crowdsourcing feature to alert us if, say, a list of local broadband providers is incomplete or incorrect. The tool has already drawn more than 40,000 submissions, much of which confirms the map’s underlying data. In other cases, the public has identified errors, which we pass on to our grantees to support their ongoing data verification efforts. (By the way, enter your street address – not city name or zip code – for the most accurate results.)

The map serves many types of users. Business owners and consumers can type in their address and see a list of local broadband providers, along with details on their maximum advertised speeds and the technology used to provide the service. Economic developers can use the map to market particular communities to businesses and residents looking for cutting-edge telecommunications services.

Research firms and academics can figure out which states, counties, and census blocks have the fastest broadband connections and compare those findings with demographic data, such as income and race. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, for example, has already done a study on broadband access and demographics using the dataset published in February. Policymakers can use the map to help craft policies that support private sector investment in broadband. And application developers can combine the data with additional information for further analysis or other new uses.

This is America’s map. Let us know how you are using it too.

Anne Neville
Director of NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative

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