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Study finds that 42 million Americans don’t have access to broadband

Study finds that 42 million Americans don’t have access to broadband
(Image credit: Getty)

The FCC may have severely underestimated the number of Americans without access to high-speed internet (aka broadband) from the best internet service providers, according to a survey by BroadbandNow Research.

The FCC’s broadband deployment report asserts that there are currently 21.3 million Americans who lack access to broadband internet, but BroadbandNow Research’s own survey of 11,663 addresses estimates that the true value could be double this number, at a staggering 42 million people. That’s a lot of people who can’t watch funny videos on YouTube or blast through The Witcher on Netflix.

The discrepancy between the FCC and BroadbandNow’s results comes from a “widely acknowledged flaw” in the FCC’s form 477 reporting. You see, if an internet service provider offers a broadband connection to a single house on a block, then the entire block is considered to be covered. This seems like a ludicrous oversight to us.

Broadband, but not broad coverage

In addition to finding that almost twice as many Americans as previously thought don’t have access to broadband internet, the report by BroadbandNow also found that rural communities are most strongly affected by this reporting flaw. This means that those living in rural and less affluent areas have much worse internet connectivity than everyone else. This is especially worrying when you consider how important the internet is when it comes to escaping poverty via online job applications and improving your skills using online learning services.

To its credit, the FCC has announced that it is changing how it reports on broadband coverage, moving away from ISP self-reporting towards geospatial broadband coverage maps and citizen self-reporting. BroadbandNow is firmly behind address-level reporting, as its own research has shown that this increases competition between providers, which reduces prices for consumers.

If you are one of the lucky 87% of Americans who does have access to broadband internet, then you should be making the most of it. We recommend binge-watching some quality television on the best TV streaming services. And to keep yourself safe and anonymous online, why not scope out the best VPN services.