This News Release: Text | Word97
Statements: Kennard | Ness | Furchtgott-Roth | Tristani
Order FCC 00-290: Acrobat
Attachment A: Word97 | Acrobat
Attachment B: Word97 | Acrobat
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Attachment D: Word97 | Acrobat

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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

August 3, 2000

Michael Balmoris 202-418-0253


Nationwide Survey of Subscription to High-Speed and Advanced Telecommunications Services Shows 2.8 Million Total Subscribers

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:

  1. rural Americans, particularly those outside of population centers;
  2. inner city consumers;
  3. low-income consumers;
  4. minority consumers;
  5. tribal areas; and,
  6. consumers in U.S. territories.
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.

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.

Report Summary
The Report answers four basic questions the Commission laid out in the Notice of Inquiry that it issued earlier this year:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 subscriber.

    • 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.

  4. 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 terminals.

    • 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 platform.

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 statements.

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

Order FCC 00-290: Acrobat
Attachment A: Word97 | Acrobat
Attachment B: Word97 | Acrobat
Attachment C: Word97 | Acrobat
Attachment D: Word97 | Acrobat