Washington, D.C. - Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a
report concluding that advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed in a reasonable
and timely fashion overall, although the Commission identified certain groups of consumers that
are particularly vulnerable to not receiving service in a timely fashion. This is the Commission's
second inquiry, as required by Congress, into whether "advanced telecommunications capability"
is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. Advanced
telecommunications capability is the availability of high-speed, switched, broadband
telecommunications that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics,
and video using any technology.
The Commission identified the following groups as being particularly vulnerable of not
having access to advanced services if deployment is left to market forces alone:
The data in the report is based largely on the first systematic, nationwide "Broadband
Survey" of subscription to high-speed and advanced services, begun by the Commission earlier
this year. The Commission's nationwide "Broadband Survey" required any facilities-based
company that provided 250 or more broadband service lines (or wireless channels) in a given
state to report basic information about their service offerings and customers.
- rural Americans, particularly those outside of population centers;
- inner city consumers;
- low-income consumers;
- minority consumers;
- tribal areas; and,
- consumers in U.S. territories.
Comparison with data on high-speed subscribership included in the Commission's first
advanced services report issued last year suggests that there has been appreciable growth in the
deployment of high-speed services to residential consumers. These figures reveal that, although
high-speed services are available in many parts of the country, rural and low-income areas are
particularly vulnerable to not receiving timely access to such services.
The Report answers four basic questions the Commission laid out in the Notice of Inquiry
that it issued earlier this year:
Action by the Commission August 3, 2000, by Second Report (FCC 00-290). Chairman
Kennard and Commissioners Ness and Powell, with Commissioners Furchtgott-Roth and
Tristani concurring in the result, and Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth and Tristani issuing
- What is advanced telecommunications capability?
The Commission retains its current
definition: infrastructure capable of delivering a speed of 200 kilobits per second (Kbps) in
each direction, while the Commission denominates as "high-speed" those services with over
200 Kbps capability in at least one direction.
- Is advanced telecommunications capability being deployed to all Americans?
- There were a total of approximately 2.8 million high-speed and advanced services
subscribers, as of December 31, 1999.
- 1.8 million of these subscribers are residential or small business customers.
- Approximately 1.0 million of the 1.8 million subscribers subscribe to services which
meet the Commission's definition of advanced services (services with speeds in both
directions of at least 200 Kbps) - this is a three-fold increase from the previous year.
- In the First Report there were approximately 375,000 subscribers to advanced services as
of late 1998. This total consisted of at least 350,000 subscribers to cable modem service
and at least 25,000 subscribers to DSL.
- The penetration rate for advanced services more than tripled from 0.3% of households at
the end of 1998 to 1.0% at the end of 1999 (the penetration rate for high-speed and
advanced services was 1.6% at the end of 1999).
- Of the 1.0 million subscribers to advanced services, approximately 875,000 subscribed to
cable-based services and approximately 115,000 subscribed to asymmetric DSL, with the
remaining balance subscribed to other media. Compared to the totals in the First Report,
cable companies increased their subscribership approximately three-fold and local
exchange carriers increased their DSL subscribership approximately four-fold.
- Fifty-nine percent (59%) of the zip codes in this country have at least one subscriber to
high-speed services, and ninety-one percent (91%) of the country's population lives in
those zip codes.
- Is overall deployment reasonable and timely?
- The Commission concludes that the deployment of advanced telecommunications
capability to all Americans is reasonable and timely at this time, although it identified
certain groups of consumers that are particularly vulnerable to not receiving advanced
services in a timely manner.
- Those outside of population centers, including rural customers, are particularly
vulnerable to not being served by market forces alone (there is at least one subscriber to
high-speed service in 57% of our sample of small town zip codes, compared to 19% of
the most sparsely-populated zip codes).
- Survey data indicates that low-income consumers are particularly vulnerable to not
having affordable access to high-speed services. Of the zip codes with the lowest
household income, only 42% include a high-speed subscriber. On the other hand, data
show that, of zip codes with the highest household income, 90% include a high-speed
- While our data indicates many low-income, inner city neighborhoods are in zip codes
with broadband subscribers, we can not tell from our data if infrastructure is evenly
available within these zip codes.
- The survey data, collected by zip code, does not provide the detail necessary to reveal
whether subscribers are members of minority groups. Consequently from that data, we
cannot draw conclusions about the availability of high-speed services to discrete minority
groups. However, looking more broadly at certain statistics about minority households,
the Commission concludes they provide a strong indication that minority customers are
particularly vulnerable to not having access to advanced services.
- What actions will accelerate deployment?
The following recommendations, among others,
will promote access to advanced services for those identified as being particularly vulnerable
to not having affordable access to high-speed services by encouraging competition,
promoting infrastructure investment and addressing the affordability of advanced services.
- The Commission will examine its rules to ensure that competitors can access remote
- The Commission will streamline the equipment approval process for wireless and
customer premise equipment with advanced telecommunications capability.
- The Commission will continue its commitment to the e-rate and consider reviewing its
program to determine whether it can do even more to promote high-speed connections in
schools, libraries, and the surrounding communities.
- The Commission will consider making more spectrum available for broadband services -
both licensed and unlicensed.
- The Commission will initiate a proceeding on the issue of whether to establish a national
policy to mandate access by multiple Internet service providers to a cable company's
CC Docket No. 98-146
Common Carrier Bureau contact: Ellen Blackler at (202) 418-1500
News about the Federal Communications Commission can also be found
on the Commission's web site www.fcc.gov.