A Broader Reach for Broadband

David ByrdBy David Byrd

ANPI considers quality high-speed broadband as critical to the growth of unified communications and, more generally, IP communications. A report released last week by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council describes the improvement in access, speed and to some extent price over the last four years in the U.S.

The Four Years of Broadband Growth report offers several insights into the increase of broadband across America. The report is best viewed as combining two subjects: landline broadband and wireless broadband. Today I want to provide insight into landline.

I have written several blogs over the years discussing the objectives of the Recovery Act to support telecommunications job development and broadband expansion. A total of $6.9 billion was set aside to support improving broadband infrastructure, with $2.5 billion allocated to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). To date the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program has awarded $1.4 billion to 105 projects in 37 states and one territory. The non-rural awards are managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure as well as support public computer centers and encourage consumer adoption of broadband. The NTIA has invested $2.8 billion in more than 220 projects in every state, territory and the District of Columbia.

Broadband growth and availability are summarized as:

  • In 2000, 4.4 percent of American households had a home connection to broadband; this grew to 68 percent by 2010.
  • Broadband networks with a speed of greater than 10MBps now reach more than 94 percent of homes.
  • Average delivered broadband speeds have doubled since 2009. In 2012, North Americas average mobile data connection speed was 2.6 MBps, the fastest in the world, nearly twice that of what was available in Western Europe and more than five times the global average.
  • Annual investment in U.S. wireless networks grew more than 40 percent, from $21 billion to $30 billion, between 2009 and 2012, while wireless investment in Asia rose only 4 percent and investment in Europe was flat.
  • There are more than 500 million Internet connected devices now in American homes and businesses.

The report acknowledges it is time to change the definition of broadband again. The current definition is 3 MBps downstream and 768 KBps upstream with some regulatory definitions a bit higher. For most uses of the Internet and IP-enabled applications this is the minimum required speed. Today, 10 MBps downstream and 1 MBps upstream will support video streaming and the other applications IP-enabled devices may be executing in the home. Ninety-one percent of rural and 99.9 percent of urban users have access to the current definition of broadband. If the new definition of 10MBps/1MBps is accepted, then only 74 percent rural residents will meet the minimum. Urban access drops would drop as well, but only to 99.1 percent.

David Byrd is chief marketing officer and executive vice president of channel sales for


. He previously spent five years as vice president of marketing and sales for Broadvox and before that was vice president of channels and alliances for Eftia and Telcordia.


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