The broadband growth numbers the FCC reported in February were off by millions, and now the agency says in a revised draft report its figures were inflated. Advocacy group Free Press revealed the inaccuracy in March. The organization found that a new ISP called BarrierFree, falsely told the Commission it started serving 20 percent of the country just six months after it opened, according to Engadget.
The revised report shows that since last year’s account, the number of Americans lacking access to a fixed terrestrial broadband connection meeting the FCC’s benchmark speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped by over 18 percent, from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016, to 21.3 million at the end of 2017. Moreover, the majority of those gaining access to such high-speed connections, approximately 4.3 million, live in rural areas, where broadband deployment has traditionally lagged.
“Fortunately, the new data doesn’t change the report’s fundamental conclusion: we are closing the digital divide, which means we’re delivering on the FCC’s top priority,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We’re achieving this result by removing barriers to infrastructure investment, promoting competition, and providing efficient, effective support for rural broadband expansion through our Universal Service Fund programs.”
May 3, 2019