Microsoft’s New Study Reports Over 162 Million in US Lack Broadband, FCC Says Only 24.7 Million

By CircleID Reporter

A new study by Microsoft researchers suggests the actual use of high-speed internet across the US is quite different than those of from the FCC. New York Times' Steve Lohr writes: "Microsoft concluded that 162.8 million people do not use the internet at broadband speeds, while the F.C.C. says broadband is not available to 24.7 million Americans. The discrepancy is particularly stark in rural areas. ... Telecommunications experts and some politicians have pointed to the shortcomings of the official F.C.C. statistics for years. Last year, the agency began a formal review, still in progress, of how to improve its broadband measurements."

Why the discrepancy: "The issue with the current F.C.C. statistics, experts say, is that they rely on simplistic surveys of internet service providers that inherently overstate coverage. ... The Microsoft researchers instead looked at the internet speeds of people using the company's software and services..."

The big plan: Broadband expansion naturally helps tech companies including Microsoft to expand their market. And Microsft to that effect has a plan. Company President, Brad Smith, in a post this week, urges that broadband gap is a solvable issue and that Microsoft believes "TV white spaces technology can be a game changer for rural America."

— "We're confident that using a mixed model that combines wireless technologies including 4G and TV white spaces, traditional fiber-based connectivity, and satellite coverage can dramatically reduce the cost and time of extending broadband access to rural communities across America."

— Don't count on 5G. "[G]given the nature of the spectrum on which 5G relies, it's not likely to soon reach the rural areas that currently lack broadband access," says Smith. "For example, today 13 percent of Americans using mobile devices still can't even access 4G technology."

Related topics: Access Providers, Broadband, Policy & Regulation, White Space