Each year, the FCC issues three reports on the development, health, and projected future of the telecom industry. The first report, dubbed the Broadband Deployment Report, is an effort by the FCC to understand the rate of deployment of broadband services, as well as assess how many Americans have access to such services. The second report, called the Internet Access Report, summarizes the growth and the total number of internet connections. Lastly, the Voice Telephone Services Report compiles industry data and summarizes the number of telephone users by service, for both landline, VoIP, and mobile.
These reports are essential to the FCC for two reasons. First, they help the FCC assess trends in the telecom industry so that they can anticipate future needs and adjust the commission’s policies. Second, they are a means to communicate the state of the telecom industry as seen through the eyes of the FCC, which helps to inform both industry players and third-party groups. The following was compiled with the help of the Miller-Isar Regulatory Review.
Here is what the FCC found in its three annual reports:
Broadband Deployment Report Shows Near-Ubiquitous Coverage.
On February 2, 2018, the Commission released its Broadband Deployment Report for 2018. The Commission expressed encouragement after the release of the report over the level of broadband deployment, but it also asserts that too many Americans still lack access to high-speed internet service. The Commission judged that its policies must encourage deployment of broadband in rural areas, on tribal lands, and in schools and libraries. Among the Report’s findings, fixed terrestrial broadband Internet access was deployed to 29.9 million people who never previously had Internet access. The Report also notes that as of year-end 2016, 92.3 percent of all Americans had access to fixed terrestrial broadband Internet access at speeds of 25 Mbps downloads/3 Mbps uploads. Approximately 98.1 percent of the U.S. has access to some form wireline or wireless broadband Internet access, though rural areas still lag.
Key findings include:
- From 2012 to 2014, the two years preceding the Title II Order, fixed terrestrial broadband Internet access was deployed to 29.9 million people who never had it before, including 1 million people on Tribal lands. But in the following two years, after the Title II Order was adopted, new deployments dropped 55 percent, reaching only 13.5 million people, including only 330,000 people on Tribal lands.
- From 2012 to 2014, mobile LTE broadband was newly deployed to 34.2 million people, including 21.5 million rural Americans.
- But in the following two years, new mobile deployments dropped 83 percent, reaching only 5.8 million more Americans, including only 2.3 million more rural Americans.
- And from 2012 to 2014, the number of Americans without access to both fixed terrestrial broadband and mobile broadband fell by more than half—from 72.1 million to 34.5 million.
- But the pace was nearly three times slower after the adoption of the 2015 Title II Order, with only 13.9 million Americans newly getting access to both over the next two years.
- As of year-end 2016, 92.3% of all Americans have access to fixed terrestrial broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, up from 89.4% in 2014 and 81.2% in 2012. Nonetheless, over 24 million Americans still lack fixed terrestrial broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
- Rural and Tribal areas continue to lag behind urban areas in mobile broadband deployment. Although evaluated urban areas saw an increase of 10 Mbps/3 Mbps mobile LTE from 81.9% in 2014 to 90.5 % in 2016, such deployment in evaluated rural and Tribal areas remained flat at about 70% and 64%, respectively. Approximately 14 million rural Americans and 1.2 million Americans living on Tribal lands still lack mobile LTE broadband at speeds of 10 Mbps/3 Mbps.
- Approximately 92% of the population has access to both fixed terrestrial services at 25 Mbps/3 Mbps and mobile LTE at speeds of 5 Mbps/1 Mbps. In rural areas, 68.6% of Americans have access to both services, as opposed to 97.9% of Americans in urban areas. With respect to fixed 25 Mbps/3 Mbps and 10 Mbps/3 Mbps LTE services, 85.3% of all Americans have access to such services, including 61% in evaluated rural areas and 89.8% in evaluated urban areas.
- Approximately 98.1% of the country has access to either fixed terrestrial service at 25 Mbps/3 Mbps or mobile LTE at 10 Mbps/3 Mbps, with that number dropping to 89.7% in rural areas.
- The U.S. ranked 10th out of 28 countries for download speed, 7th out of 29 for fixed broadband price (using the fixed hedonic price index), and 10th out of 29 for mobile broadband price (again, using the fixed hedonic price index).
- 88% of American schools meet the FCC’s short-term connectivity goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 users. Further, 22% of school districts meet our long-term connectivity goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 users.
Internet Access Report Shows Substantial Growth in New Connections
On February 7, 2018, the Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau released its Internet Access Services Report. The Report summarizes data regarding Internet access connections in the United States as of December 31, 2016, based on FCC Form 477 submissions. According to the Report, Internet connections increased roughly six percent between December 2015 and December 2016 to 376 million. The majority of the growth in total internet connections was attributable to increased mobile internet access subscribership. Mobile internet connections increased seven percent year-over-year to 270 million in December 2016, while the number of fixed connections grew to 106 million – up about three percent from December 2015.
- The total number of Internet connections increased by about 6% between December 2015 and December 2016 to 376 million.
- Most of the growth in total Internet connections is attributable to increased mobile Internet access subscribership. The number of mobile Internet connections increased 7% year-over-year to 270 million in December 2016, while the number of fixed connections grew to 106 million – up about 3% from December 2015.
- The percentage of fixed connections with a downstream speed of at least 25 Mbps has grown from 33% (or 31 million connections) in December 2013 to 60% (or 63 million connections) in December 2016. Over the same period, the percentage of fixed connections with slower downstream speeds of less than 3 Mbps has decreased from 10% (or 10 million connections) in December 2013 to 4% (or 4 million connections) in December 2016.
Voice Telephone Services Report Finds 10% Year-On-Year Growth in VoIP
On February 7, 2018, the Wireline Competition Bureau issued its Voice Telephone Services Report summarizing information collected on telephone services as of December 31, 2016. As of December 2016, there were 58 million end-user switched access lines in service, 63 million interconnected VoIP subscriptions and 341 million mobile subscriptions in the U.S. Interconnected VoIP subscriptions increased at a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent, mobile voice subscriptions increased at a compound annual growth rate of three percent and retail switched access lines declined at 12 percent per year over a three year period.
Key findings include:
- Over the three-year period preceding 2016, interconnected VoIP subscriptions increased at a compound annual growth rate of 10%, mobile voice subscriptions increased at a compound annual growth rate of 3%, and retail switched access lines declined at 12% per year.
- Of the 121 million wireline retail voice telephone service connections (including both switched access lines and interconnected VoIP subscriptions) in December 2016, 64 million (or 53%) were residential connections and 57 million (or 47%) were business connections.
- Cross-classified by technology and the retailer’s regulatory status in Figure 2, the 64 million wireline residential connections in December 2016 were: 35% ILEC switched access lines, 47% non-ILEC interconnected VoIP subscriptions, 15% ILEC interconnected VoIP subscriptions, and 2% non-ILEC switched access lines. Similarly, the 57 million wireline business connections were: 40% ILEC switched access lines, 35% non-ILEC interconnected VoIP subscriptions, 5% ILEC interconnected VoIP subscriptions, and 20% non-ILEC switched access lines.