October 1, 2022

The FCC Has No Idea How Many People Don’t Have Broadband Access


A new broadband mapping system is starting to show just how inaccurate the Federal Communications Commission’s connectivity data is. From a report: In Missouri and Virginia, up to 38 percent of rural homes and businesses that the FCC counts as having broadband access actually do not, the new research found. That’s more than 445,000 unconnected homes and businesses that the FCC would call “served” with its current system. Given that the new research covered just two states with a combined population of 14.6 million (or 4.5% of the 327.2 million people nationwide), it’s likely that millions of homes nationwide have been wrongly counted as served by broadband. A full accounting of how the current data exaggerates access could further undercut FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s claims that repealing net neutrality rules and other consumer protection measures have dramatically expanded broadband access. His claims were already unconvincing for other reasons. The new research was conducted by CostQuest Associates, a consulting firm working for USTelecom, an industry lobby group that represents AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier, and other fiber and DSL broadband providers. USTelecom submitted a summary of the findings to the FCC on Tuesday. The two-state pilot was intended to determine the feasibility of creating a more accurate broadband map for the whole US.