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BRINGING BROADBAND TO RURAL AMERICA

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Released: May 14, 2013

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

BRINGING BROADBAND TO RURAL AMERICA:

UPDATE TO REPORT ON A RURAL

BROADBAND STRATEGY

GN Docket No. 11-16

June 17, 2011


UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Para.
I.
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................. 1
II. DEVELOPMENTS IN RURAL BROADBAND................................................................................... 6
A. Improving Our Understanding of the State of Broadband in Rural America .................................. 6
B. Ensuring the Availability of Adequate Resources......................................................................... 13
1. Grants and Loans..................................................................................................................... 14
2. Universal Service/Intercarrier Compensation Reforms .......................................................... 17
3. Spectrum Initiatives................................................................................................................. 24
C. Other Commission Initiatives ........................................................................................................ 28
III. CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................................... 29
Appendix A—List of Commenters
Appendix B—Areas Without Access to Fixed Broadband Services
Appendix C—Population Without Access to Fixed Broadband Services
Appendix D—Overall Fixed Broadband Subscription Rates in Rural Census Tracts

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
The 2008 Farm Bill directed the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
(Commission), in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture, to submit to Congress a report
describing a “comprehensive rural broadband strategy” in 2009.1 The 2008 Farm Bill also required the
Chairman, in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture, to “update and evaluate” the Rural
Broadband Report in 2011.2 This Report constitutes that update and evaluation. It focuses on key
actions at the Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Rural Utilities Service
(RUS), and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) to meet the demand for affordable, high quality broadband services in rural
communities, including historic investments made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
(Recovery Act).3 While significant progress has been made to increase rural broadband deployment and
adoption since the publication of the 2009 Rural Broadband Report, and a number of private- and public-
sector initiatives are underway, additional efforts and new policies—including major universal service
policy reform—are still required to ensure that rural America fully shares in the benefits of the emerging
broadband economy.
2.
All Americans, whether they live in rural or urban areas, should have access to robust
and affordable broadband services—as well as the ability to use those services—in order to take


1 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-246, § 6112, 122 Stat. 923, 1966 (2008) (2008 Farm
Bill); see also ACTING CHMN. MICHAEL J. COPPS, FCC, BRINGING BROADBAND TO RURAL AMERICA: REPORT ON A
RURAL BROADBAND STRATEGY (2009) (2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT), attached to Rural Broadband Report
Published in FCC Record
, GN Docket No. 09-29, Public Notice, 24 FCC Rcd 12791 (2009).
2 2008 Farm Bill, § 6112(b), 122 Stat. at 1966 (“The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, in
coordination with the Secretary, shall update and evaluate the report described in subsection (a) during the third year
after the date of enactment of this Act.”).
3 See American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115, 118, 128, 512 (2009)
(Recovery Act).
1

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

advantage of the many opportunities the digital revolution has created.4 Broadband can unlock new
opportunities for Americans with respect to “consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and
homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency,
education, worker training, private-sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic
growth, and other national purposes.”5 As the Rural Broadband Report noted, broadband is critical to
bringing these benefits to rural areas,6 which are less likely than urban areas to have broadband
available.7 RUS, NTIA, and the Commission are working collaboratively to evaluate and support the
communications needs of rural communities.
3.
The nation has made significant progress in the two years since the Rural Broadband
Report was released in deploying broadband infrastructure and in implementing and modernizing policies
and programs to facilitate broadband deployment and adoption across the nation. During this time, the
public and private sectors have made substantial investments to extend and upgrade broadband
networks—including in some instances as a result of voluntary commitments to the Commission.8 This
investment has included approximately $8 billion in grants and loans to expand broadband deployment
and adoption in unserved and underserved areas under RUS’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and
NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), as well as grants and loans provided by
RUS for rural communications networks through ongoing programs.9 By working cooperatively with


4 Broadband access and literacy are growing increasingly important. See Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of
Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion
, and Possible
Steps To Accelerate Such Deployment Pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as Amended
by the Broadband Data Improvement Act
, GN Docket No. 10-159, Seventh Broadband Progress Report and Order
on Reconsideration, FCC 11-78, para. 4 (May 20, 2011) (Seventh Broadband Progress Report) (recognizing that
“[t]he costs of digital exclusion are high and growing”); see also OMNIBUS BROADBAND INITIATIVE (OBI), FCC,
CONNECTING AMERICA: THE NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN, GN Docket No. 09-51 (2010) (NATIONAL BROADBAND
PLAN), at 3–5, 14–31, 129, available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-296935A1.pdf;
2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12802, 12844–46, paras. 16, 117–18 (discussing “network
effects”).
5 47 U.S.C. § 1305(k)(2)(D).
6 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12801–06, paras. 14–25.
7 See infra Tables 1–2; see generally NTIA, BROADBAND STATISTICS REPORT: BROADBAND AVAILABILITY IN URBAN
VS. RURAL AREAS (NTIA, BROADBAND STATISTICS REPORT), available at
http://www.broadbandmap.gov/download/reports/national-broadband-map-broadband-availability-in-rural-vs-urban-
areas.pdf; see also Rural Broadband Policy Group Comments at 2–3; NCTA Comments at 3–4 (discussing
investment in rural areas and one provider’s efforts since the 2009 Rural Broadband Report to expand deployment
into areas that were previously not economically viable to serve); John Horrigan, Broadband Adoption and Use in
America
7 (OBI Working Paper No. 1, 2010) (Horrigan, Broadband Adoption and Use in America) (finding that
American adults in rural areas are less likely to have broadband available), available at
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-296442A1.pdf.
8 See, e.g., Applications Filed by Frontier Communications Corporation and Verizon Communications Inc. for
Assignment or Transfer of Control
, WC Docket No. 09-95, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 5972
(2010) (Frontier/Verizon Order); infra para. 28 (discussing voluntary commitments).
9 The Recovery Act allocated $2.5 billion for RUS’s BIP program and $4.7 billion for grants for NTIA’s BTOP
program, for a total of $7.2 billion in budget authority. See Recovery Act, 123 Stat. at 118, 128. RUS used its $2.5
billion allocation for both grants and loans. According to RUS, it may award and obligate funds in excess of its
budget authority when it makes loans. Therefore, RUS notes, the total investment under the BIP and BTOP
exceeded $7.2 billion. See GAO, GAO-11-371T, RECOVERY ACT: BROADBAND PROGRAMS AWARDS AND RISKS TO
OVERSIGHT 2–3 (Feb. 10, 2011) (GAO, BROADBAND PROGRAMS AWARDS AND RISKS TO OVERSIGHT) (“RUS
(continued….)
2

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Tribal, federal, state, and local government entities and industry and consumer groups, the Commission is
collecting better broadband data, reducing barriers to broadband deployment by improving access to
poles and rights of way for wireline and wireless facilities, and working to reform a number of other
policies and programs that will encourage rural broadband deployment. NTIA, in cooperation with the
Commission and entities in every state, has unveiled the National Broadband Map—“a searchable and
interactive website that allows users to view broadband availability across every neighborhood in the
United States.”10
4.
Many of these actions to expand broadband deployment and use are nascent; their full
impact has not yet been realized and may be difficult to measure for some time. But it is clear that much
more remains to be done to ensure that every American has the opportunity to participate in the
broadband era. The best data available indicate that more than 20 million Americans lack access to
broadband that meets the benchmark set forth in the Seventh Broadband Progress Report.11
Significantly, approximately 73 percent of these Americans reside in rural areas.12
5.
Closing the broadband gap in rural areas and building a world-leading broadband
infrastructure requires smart government policies that enable broadband providers to extend and expand
broadband availability.13 These policies must ensure fiscal responsibility and accountability, and should
(Continued from previous page)


awarded funds to 320 projects, including more than $2.3 billion for grants and about $87 million for loans.
According to RUS, the budget authority of $87 million for loans supports almost $1.2 billion in total loans, and a
combined loan and grant award amount of more than $3.5 billion.”).
10 See About National Broadband Map, NATIONAL BROADBAND MAP, http://www.broadbandmap.gov/about; see
also
47 U.S.C. § 1305(l) (directing NTIA to “develop and maintain a comprehensive nationwide inventory map of
existing broadband service capability and availability in the United States”).
11 Seventh Broadband Progress Report at para. 1 (also concluding that broadband is not being deployed to all
Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion and stating that “[m]any of these Americans live in areas where there is
no business case to offer broadband, and where existing public efforts to extend broadband are unlikely to reach”).
The Commission defined broadband “as a transmission service that actually enables an end user to download content
at speeds of at least 4 megabits per second (Mbps) and to upload content at speeds of at least 1 Mbps over the
broadband provider’s network (4 Mbps/1 Mbps).” Id. at para. 1 n.2. Because the data primarily relied upon by the
Commission—NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program data (SBDD Data), described
below—are collected by pre-determined speed tiers, none of which are identical to this 4 Mbps/1 Mbps benchmark,
the Seventh Broadband Progress Report relied upon the speed tier closest to this benchmark, the 3 Mbps download
and 768 kilobits per second upload (3 Mbps/768 kbps) speed tier. Id. at para. 25; see infra paras. 10–12. We follow
that same approach here.
12 See infra Table 1 (showing that 72.5% of the population without access to 3 Mbps/768 kbps broadband is in rural
areas). The identification of unserved rural areas relies upon NTIA’s SBDD Data and the U.S. Census Bureau’s
(Census Bureau) designation of rural areas from the 2000 Census. See infra para. 9; Census 2000 Urban and Rural
Classification
, CENSUS BUREAU (Dec. 3, 2009), http://www.census.gov/geo/www/ua/ua_2k.html. For purposes of
that census, the Census Bureau classified areas located outside urban areas and urban clusters as “rural.” Id. In
general, urban areas are “census block groups or blocks that have a population density of at least 1,000 people per
square mile,” and urban clusters are the “surrounding census blocks that have an overall density of at least 500
people per square mile.” Id. A census block is the smallest geographic entity for which the Census Bureau collects
and tabulates complete data. See Decennial Management Division Glossary, CENSUS BUREAU,
http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/glossary.html (Census Bureau Glossary) (defining “census block”). The standards
used by NTIA for determining whether broadband is available in a census block are detailed in the Seventh
Broadband Progress Report
. Seventh Broadband Progress Report App. F at para. 7.
13 Innovative government policies are essential to closing the broadband gap in rural America. To enhance the
(continued….)
3

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

utilize market-driven approaches wherever appropriate. The Commission, NTIA, and the states must
further improve data collection and mapping so we know more precisely where resources should be
targeted. The Commission must reform and modernize the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs and
intercarrier compensation system to ensure that broadband providers have appropriate incentives to
deploy and encourage adoption of broadband in rural areas. The Commission also must continue to
remove barriers to rural broadband deployment to promote further private and public investment,
innovation, and job creation. And the Commission must increase the deployment of wireless
infrastructure in rural areas.14 These actions, many of which are underway, seek to increase the
opportunities for rural residential and business consumers so that they can participate fully in today’s
global economy.

II.

DEVELOPMENTS IN RURAL BROADBAND

A.

Improving Our Understanding of the State of Broadband in Rural America

6.
Good data drive good policymaking. The 2009 Rural Broadband Report recognized that
a lack of comprehensive and reliable data on the extent of broadband deployment, speeds, and
subscribership, among other information, constituted a significant obstacle to improving policies to bring
affordable and robust broadband services to rural America.15 Since publication of that report, the
collective efforts of federal, state, and private interests have resulted in some improvement in available
broadband data.
7.
Commission Data Collection. As part of the Data Innovation Initiative that it launched
in 2010,16 the Commission is continuing to improve its broadband data collection.17 In addition, the
(Continued from previous page)


Federal government’s efforts to address the needs of rural America, President Obama recently issued an Executive
Order establishing a White House Rural Council to better coordinate Federal programs and maximize the impact of
Federal investment to promote economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities. See Exec. Order,
Establishment of the White House Rural Council, Jun. 9, 2011, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-
office/2011/06/09/executive-order-establishment-white-house-rural-council. The Council is chaired by the Secretary
of Agriculture and includes representatives from various agencies, including the Commission. Id. Among other
things, the Council is tasked with coordinating and increasing the effectiveness of Federal engagement with rural
stakeholders, including telecommunications services providers. Id.
14 We note that President Obama has called for a National Wireless Initiative to make high-speed wireless services
available to 98 percent of Americans. See President Barack Obama, Remarks in State of Union Address (Jan. 25,
2011) (“[T]his isn’t about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the
digital age.”), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/25/remarks-president-state-union-
address; see also Press Release, Office of the Press Secretary, White House, President Obama Details Plan to Win
the Future through Expanded Wireless Access (Feb. 10, 2011), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-
office/2011/02/10/president-obama-details-plan-win-future-through-expanded-wireless-access.
15 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12806, para. 26 (stating that the Commission lacked data
sufficient to “detail where broadband facilities are deployed, their speeds, and the number of broadband subscribers
throughout rural America”); id. at 12832, para. 88.
16 See Press Release, FCC, FCC Launches Data Innovation Initiative (Jun. 29, 2010), available at
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-299269A1.pdf.
17 See Modernizing the FCC Form 477 Data Program; Development of Nationwide Broadband Data To Evaluate
Reasonable and Timely Deployment of Advanced Services to All Americans, Improvement of Wireless Broadband
Subscribership Data, and Development of Data on Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Subscribership; Service Quality, Customer Satisfaction, Infrastructure and Operating Data Gathering; Review of
Wireline Competition Bureau Data Practices
, WC Docket Nos. 11-10, 07-38, 08-190, 10-132, Notice of Proposed
(continued….)
4

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Commission has partnered with SamKnows Limited (SamKnows), a company that specializes in
measuring broadband availability and performance, to collect and analyze data on consumers’ fixed
broadband service quality across the United States. This will result in the most reliable and accurate
statistics available to date on the performance of fixed broadband connections.18 The Commission also
has made tools available that can provide any consumer with real-time information about the quality of
his or her fixed or mobile broadband connection.19 In developing the National Broadband Plan, the
Commission also engaged in extensive data collection and analysis of broadband deployment, adoption,
and national purposes, which remain relevant in informing the Commission’s deliberations.20 Finally, the
Commission, NTIA, and others conduct periodic surveys on broadband adoption.21
8.
National Broadband Map. NTIA, in collaboration with the Commission, and in
partnership with state, Tribal, and territorial governments, collected detailed data on broadband
deployment as part of its development of the National Broadband Map.22 That map is a powerful tool for
(Continued from previous page)


Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 1508 (2011) (Form 477 Modernization NPRM). The Form 477 Modernization NPRM,
which is part of the larger Data Innovation Initiative, seeks to build on improvements in the Form 477 data collection
rules adopted in 2008. See id. at 1508, para. 1. Those rules require Form 477 fixed broadband filers to report,
by census tract, the total number of fixed broadband subscribers, the proportion of those subscribers that are
residential subscribers, and the number of subscribers broken down by speed tier and technology. See Development
of Nationwide Broadband Data To Evaluate Reasonable and Timely Deployment of Advanced Services to All
Americans, Improvement of Wireless Broadband Subscribership Data, and Development of Data on Interconnected
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Subscribership
, WC Docket No. 07-38, Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 9691, 9695–9703, paras. 10–16, 19–22 (2008) (2008 Broadband Data
Gathering Order
), recon. in part, Order on Reconsideration, 23 FCC Rcd 9800 (2008). A census tract is a small,
relatively permanent statistical subdivision of a county or statistically equivalent entity that generally contains
between 1,000 and 8,000 people. See Census Bureau Glossary (defining “census tract”). Whereas data on fixed
broadband connections are reported at the census-tract level, the Commission collects data on terrestrial mobile
broadband connections (at speeds exceeding 200 kbps in at least one direction) at the state level. See 2008
Broadband Data Gathering Order
, 23 FCC Rcd at 9698, para. 16. The Commission has sought comment on
collecting broadband data at a more granular level. See Form 477 Modernization NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 1529–33,
1536–37, paras. 55–65, 79–82.
18 SamKnows & the FCC: American Broadband Performance Measurement, SAMKNOWS (2011),
http://www.samknows.com/broadband/fcc_and_samknows. The Commission also has issued a Request for
Information about the capabilities of businesses to collect and report mobile broadband performance measurement
and coverage data to the Commission and/or the general public. See FCC, Request For Information: Measurement
and Reporting of Mobile Broadband Performance and Coverage
, FEDBIZOPPS.GOV (Oct. 8, 2010), available at
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=987657347a39a85e109ee4e057517340&tab=core&_cv
iew=1.
19 Consumer Broadband Test, BROADBAND.GOV, http://www.broadband.gov/qualitytest/about/.
20 See, e.g., NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN App. D (listing the data-gathering workshops); see also id. at ix (noting
that the proceeding yielded 23,000 comments and 1,100 ex parte filings).
21 See, e.g., ECONOMICS AND STATISTICS ADMINISTRATION & NTIA, EXPLORING THE DIGITAL NATION: HOME
BROADBAND INTERNET ADOPTION THE UNITED STATES vi (2010) (NTIA ADOPTION SURVEY), available at
http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/report.pdf; Horrigan, Broadband Adoption and Use in
America
at 3–7.
22 See Recovery Act § 6001(l), 123 Stat. at 118, 128 (directing that NTIA create a “comprehensive nationwide
inventory map of existing broadband service capability and availability” showing the geographic extent to which that
capability is deployed and available for each state); 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12837, para.
102. NTIA obtains the data used in the National Broadband Map through the SBDD Program, a matching grant
(continued….)
5

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

consumers, researchers, and policymakers seeking to understand the broadband options available in
particular areas.23 The SBDD Data underlying the map constitute the best available data on rural
broadband deployment in the United States to date.24
9.
What the Data Show About Broadband Deployment and Adoption in Rural America.
Like the Commission’s Seventh Broadband Progress Report,25 this report examines where consumers do
and do not have access to services meeting the Commission’s broadband benchmark, as well as
examining subscription rates.26 The best available data for these purposes are the SBDD Data and the
Commission’s Form 477 subscription data.27 Because of concerns about the accuracy or lack of
granularity of the available mobile wireless data for this purpose, consistent with the approach followed
in the Seventh Broadband Progress Report, this report does not analyze data on mobile broadband
deployment or adoption.28 In other contexts, where the focus of the Commission’s analysis is not on
determining the availability of services at specific speed thresholds, the Commission has analyzed rural
coverage by third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) mobile wireless networks based on
American Roamer coverage data and Census population data, finding that 8 percent of the U.S. rural
(Continued from previous page)


program that implements the joint purposes of the Recovery Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA).
Anne Neville, NTIA Launches National Broadband Map, BROADBANDUSA (NTIA BLOG) (Feb. 17, 2011),
http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/node/764 (Feb. 17, 2011).
23 For example, a consumer can use this map to obtain a list of the companies that offer broadband service in the area
where the consumer lives, as well as information regarding the service speeds those companies offer. The map also
allows users to generate an overview of broadband availability for any state, county, state legislative district,
metropolitan statistical area, USF study area, or Native Nation. See generally NATIONAL BROADBAND MAP,
www.broadbandmap.gov. In addition, the data used to create the map—over 25 million records—are publicly
available for download “for use by all stakeholders, including consumers, policymakers, and researchers.” Tom
Power, Broadband Data Beyond the Map, NATIONAL BROADBAND MAP BLOG (Mar. 18, 2011),
http://www.broadbandmap.gov/blog/2510/broadband-data-beyond-the-map.
24 NTIA, Dep’t of Commerce, State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program, RIN 0660-ZA29, Notice of
Funds Availability, 74 Fed. Reg. 32545 (July 8, 2009); see also NTIA, Dep’t of Commerce, State Broadband Data
and Development Grant Program, RIN 0660-ZA29, Notice of Funds Availability; Clarification, 74 Fed. Reg. 40569
(Aug. 12, 2009); Seventh Broadband Progress Report at para. 21.
25 Seventh Broadband Progress Report at paras. 23–27, 58–61.
26 See supra note 11 for an explanation of Commission’s broadband benchmark.
27 Our analysis reflects the limitations in these data sources. Cf. Seventh Broadband Progress Report App. F
(discussing the limitations of SBDD and Form 477 data and how these limitations may affect analyses that rely on
those data). NTIA and the Commission are working to improve the accuracy of the available data, including the data
on which the National Broadband Map is based, in part by relying on input from the grantees that collected the data
and from the public. See Press Release, NTIA, Commerce’s NTIA Unveils National Broadband Map and New
Broadband Adoption Survey Results (Feb. 17, 2011), available at
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/press/2011/NationalBroadbandMap_02172011.html; see also Seventh Broadband Progress
Report
App. F at paras. 8, 23; supra paras. 7–8.
28 See Seventh Broadband Progress Report at paras. 26–27 (declining to draw conclusions based on SBDD Data
about mobile wireless services because of a concern that these data do not accurately reflect where mobile wireless
subscribers actually are able to obtain service that meets the broadband performance threshold); see also id. at para.
33 (excluding mobile wireless from the Commission’s analysis of Form 477 data because Form 477 collects mobile
wireless data only at the state level).
6

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

population was not covered by either type of network as of November 2009, compared to only 2 percent
of the entire U.S. population.29
10.
The data show that the broadband deployment and adoption gaps in rural areas remain
significant.30 Table 1 reports the number of Americans without access to 3 Mbps/768 kbps or faster fixed
broadband services according to SBDD Data. As that table indicates, 72.5 percent of the 26.2 million
Americans that still lack access to 3 Mbps/768 kbps or faster fixed broadband services reside in rural
areas, even though only 21.7 percent of all Americans reside in rural areas. Close to three out of ten rural
Americans—28.2 percent—lack access to fixed broadband at 3 Mbps/768kbps or faster, a percentage that
is more than nine times as large as the 3.0 percent that lack access in non-rural areas.31 Moreover, other
data indicate that rural consumers have fewer choices among broadband technologies and providers than
other consumers have.32

Table 1

Fixed Broadband Availability

(SBDD Census Block Data as of June 2010)33

Area

Population

Population Without

Percentage of Population

Access to 3 Mbps/768

Without Access to 3

kbps or Faster Fixed

Mbps/768 kbps or Faster

Broadband Service

Fixed Broadband Service

Rural Areas

67,224,943
18,974,285
28.2%

Non-Rural Areas

243,181,422
7,186,053
3.0%

All Areas

310,406,365
26,160,338
8.4%

Percentage in Rural Areas

21.7%
72.5%
11.
Subscription to broadband services in rural areas also lags the nation as a whole.34 Table 2
compares the overall subscription rate in the nation to the subscription rate in census tracts in which at


29 See Implementation of Section 6002(b) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Annual Report and
Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions with Respect to Mobile Wireless, Including Commercial Mobile
Services
, WT Docket No. 09-66, Fourteenth Report, 25 FCC Rcd 11407, 11614, para. 355 (2010) (Fourteenth
Mobile Wireless Competition Report
). In the context of the Fourteenth Mobile Wireless Competition Report, the
designation of “rural” population refers to persons living in counties with a population density of 100 persons or
fewer per square mile. Id. at 11611, para. 351. The Fourteenth Mobile Wireless Competition Report notes that the
American Roamer analysis likely overstates the coverage actually experienced by consumers, because American
Roamer reports advertised coverage as reported to it by many mobile wireless service providers, each of which uses
a different definition of coverage. Id. at 11413, para. 4 n.5.
30 See, e.g., infra Table 1; supra note 12.
31 See Appendix C, which shows that the populations lacking access to 768 kbps/200 kbps or faster fixed service and
6 Mbps/1.5 Mbps or faster fixed broadband service are disproportionately rural.
32 NTIA, BROADBAND STATISTICS REPORT. As state grantees gather additional data from broadband providers, over
time the SBDD Data and map will show the deployment of broadband projects currently under construction,
including those networks financed by RUS and NTIA.
33 See Appendix B and notes. Appendix B shows the total rural and total non-rural population unserved in each state
and U.S. Territory included in our analysis. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are not included in our analysis
because these territories did not provide information in time to be included in the SBDD Data underlying our
analysis.
7

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

least 50 percent of the population of the tract resides in a census block that was designated as “rural” in
the 2000 Census. As the table shows, only 18.9 percent of households in rural areas subscribe to a
3 Mbps/768 kbps or faster fixed broadband service compared to 33.6 percent of households in the U.S. as
a whole.

Table 2

Comparison of Overall Subscription Rate for Fixed Broadband Services Between the U.S. as a

Whole and Census Tracts in which At Least 50% of the Population Reside in a Rural Area

(Form 477 Broadband Subscription Data June 2009 and June 2010)35

U.S. as a Whole

Rural Areas

June 2009

June 2010

June 2009

June 2010

768 kbps/200 kbps or Faster
55.9%
59.7%
41.4%
45.9%
3 Mbps/768 kbps or Faster
26.8%
33.6%
13.4%
18.9%
6 Mbps/1.5 Mbps or Faster
13.8%
19.2%
4.6%
7.1%
12.
These results are consistent with the Commission’s findings in the Seventh Broadband
Progress Report, which suggests a correlation between broadband subscription and education and
income levels.36 Even within rural areas, areas that lack access to broadband tend to have a population
with less education and lower income levels than rural areas with access to broadband.37 On average,
(Continued from previous page)


34 The subscription data shown below are based on the residential broadband subscription data the Commission
collects on Form 477. The Commission generally collects Form 477 broadband data at the census tract level. See
supra
note 17. Subscription rates in rural and non-rural areas are calculated by dividing the number of residential
fixed broadband subscriptions by the number of households. We note that the Commission has questioned the
accuracy of the Form 477 Broadband data at the census tract level because the subscription rates in some census
tracts exceed 100 percent. See Seventh Broadband Progress Report at para. 29. While aggregating census tract data
to the county level would alleviate this particular problem—see id.—taking that approach here would capture only
35.1 million of the 67.2 million Americans that reside in rural areas given our determination that to qualify as
“rural,” at least 50 percent of the population must reside in a rural area. In contrast, the analysis in Table 2 captures
61.8 million of those the 67.2 million Americans residing in rural areas.
35 See Appendix D for the overall subscription rates in rural census tracts in each State and U.S. Territory included in
our analysis.
36 See Seventh Broadband Progress Report at paras. 43–44; see also INDUSTRY ANALYSIS AND TECHNOLOGY
DIVISION, FCC, INTERNET ACCESS SERVICES: STATUS AS OF JUNE 30, 2010, at 35, charts 17, 18, 21, 22 (Mar. 2011).
37 To examine the demographics of rural areas without access to fixed broadband services, we aggregate the SBDD
Data up to the census tract level because demographic information is not available at the census block level. The
demographic analysis above relies upon the American Community Survey (ACS) Five-Year Estimates 2005–2009
census tract level data. These ACS data are based upon surveys conducted from January 1, 2005 to December 31,
2009 and are significant because these data are the most recent demographic information to date. American
Community Survey
, CENSUS BUREAU,
http://factfinder.census.gov/jsp/saff/SAFFInfo.jsp?_pageId=sp1_acs&_submenuId=&ds_name=&_ci_nbr=&qr_nam
e=&_industry=. The ACS data do not represent any one year or the midpoint of a period, but are estimates for the
time period 2005–2009. The ACS surveys were conducted only for the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and
Puerto Rico; they did not include American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Median Household Income is measured in 2009 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars. Educational attainment is measured as
the portion of the population aged 25 years old and older that has attained at least an Associate’s Degree. See id.
8

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

households in rural areas without access to a 3 Mbps/768 kbps fixed broadband service have an average
median household income of $48,331 compared to $57,075 in rural areas with access to such service.
Similarly, for rural areas without access to this service, on average, 25.5 percent of the population aged
25 or older have at least an Associate’s degree compared to 30 percent of the population aged 25 or older
in rural areas with access to this service. Moreover, according to one survey, in 2010 only 50 percent of
adults in rural areas use broadband at home, compared to 70 percent of adults living in urban areas.38
Thus, it appears reasonable to conclude that lower broadband adoption in rural areas reflects less
deployment as well as demographic factors, including lower income levels.

B.

Ensuring the Availability of Adequate Resources

13.
This section briefly discusses improvements made in the last two years in directing
public resources towards closing the broadband gap in rural areas. We recognize that actors other than
the federal government—including private-sector companies large and small, cooperatives,
municipalities, and other state and local entities—are the primary forces for increasing broadband
availability in rural America. Broadband providers’ investment in rural areas has been substantial to
date, and we note that three large providers of communications services, CenturyLink, Comcast, and
Frontier, have committed to expanding their broadband footprints—at least in part to fulfill voluntary
commitments to the Commission.39 Other smaller companies are rolling out state-of-the-art services in
rural communities where broadband was previously unavailable.40 Efforts by the federal government to
help close the broadband gap in rural areas complement, facilitate, and accelerate these investments by
broadband providers.
1.

Grants and Loans

14.
Recognizing the unique difficulties in deploying broadband to rural and Tribal areas,
Congress allocated $7.2 billion to RUS and NTIA to expand access to and adoption of broadband
services in communities across America.41 At the time the Rural Broadband Report was released in May
2009, the implementation of the Recovery Act had just begun.42 Now, funds have been dedicated to
projects that will bring robust broadband to unserved and underserved areas of the country.43 The


38 See AARON SMITH, PEW INTERNET & AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT, HOME BROADBAND 2010 at 8 (Aug. 2010)
(SMITH, HOME BROADBAND ADOPTION), available at
http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2010/Home%20broadband%202010.pdf.
39 See Applications Filed by Qwest Communications International Inc. and CenturyTel, Inc. d/b/a CenturyLink for
Consent to Transfer Control
, WC Docket No. 10-110, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 4194, 4218,
App. C (2011) (CenturyLink/Qwest Merger); CenturyLink Comments, WC Docket No. 01-92, at i (filed Apr. 18,
2011); Frontier/Verizon Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 6001, App. C; Frontier Comments, WC Docket No. 01-92, at 2 (filed
Apr. 18, 2011).
40 See, e.g., NCTA Comments at 3–4; see also SPX Comments Exh. A.
41 See supra note 9. These funds were allocated as a one-time appropriation. See Recovery Act, 123 Stat. at 128.
The Recovery Act required that a website be created to “foster greater accountability and transparency in the use of
covered funds.” Id. § 1526(a), 123 Stat. at 293. Recovery.gov gives taxpayers user-friendly tools to track Recovery
Act funds. The site also offers the public an opportunity to report suspected fraud, waste, or abuse related to
Recovery Act funding. See RECOVERY.GOV: TRACK THE MONEY,
http://www.recovery.gov/About/Pages/Recoverygov.aspx.
42 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12815–16, paras. 46–47.
43 See generally NTIA, DEP’T. OF COMMERCE, THE BROADBAND TECHNOLOGY OPPORTUNITIES PROGRAM:
EXPANDING BROADBAND ACCESS AND ADOPTION IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS AMERICA, OVERVIEW OF GRANT
AWARDS (2010) (BTOP OVERVIEW OF GRANT AWARDS), available at
(continued….)
9

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

projects funded under RUS’s BIP program will bring new or improved broadband service to 2.8 million
households, reaching nearly 7 million people, 364,000 businesses, and 32,000 critical community
institutions such as schools, healthcare facilities, and public safety agencies.44 These projects also
overlap with 31 Tribal lands and 124 persistent poverty counties.45 The BTOP program, administered by
NTIA, funded awards to eligible entities to develop and expand broadband services to rural and
underserved areas and improve access to broadband by public safety agencies. NTIA invested
approximately $4 billion in 233 BTOP projects benefitting every state, territory,46 and the District of
Columbia.47 These projects included: 123 infrastructure projects totaling $3.5 billion to construct
broadband networks; 66 public computer center projects totaling $201 million to provide access to
broadband, computer equipment, computer training, job training, and educational resources to the public
and specific vulnerable populations; and 44 sustainable broadband adoption projects totaling $250.7
million to support innovative projects that promote broadband adoption, especially among vulnerable
population groups that traditionally have underused broadband technology.48 While we anticipate
significant progress in broadband deployment and adoption from these programs, it is too soon to
quantify the full impact of these investments. And these investments will not fully resolve the need for
robust and affordable broadband in rural areas.49
15.
RUS also continues to administer a variety of non-BIP loan and grant programs targeted
specifically to communities and regions that have inadequate access to telecommunications and
broadband service or investment capital. RUS provides loans at or near the U.S. Treasury rate of interest
(Continued from previous page)


http://www.ntia.doc.gov/reports/2010/NTIA_Report_on_BTOP_12142010.pdf; About the Recovery Act BIP,
USDA: RURAL DEVELOPMENT, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_bip.html.
44 See RUS, USDA, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: ADVANCING BROADBAND—A FOUNDATION
FOR STRONG RURAL COMMUNITIES: BROADBAND INITIATIVES PROGRAM—AWARDS REPORT 1, 3 (Jan. 2011) (RUS
AWARDS REPORT). By the completion of the awards phase of the BIP in September 2010, RUS had made 320
awards for infrastructure, satellite, and technical assistance, including over $2.3 billion in grants, and almost $1.2
billion in loans. Id. at 2. RUS has put into place a multifaceted oversight framework to monitor compliance and
progress for recipients of BIP funding. See GAO, BROADBAND PROGRAMS AWARDS AND RISKS TO OVERSIGHT 6.
45 RUS AWARDS REPORT at 3.
46 Many of the actions undertaken within the last two years have benefited the U.S. Territories. Cf. Virgin Islands
Telephone Corporation Comments (noting the benefit of broadband to the territories and reminding the Commission
that the U.S. Territories should not be overlooked). BTOP grants and BIP loans are contributing to improved
broadband infrastructure in these areas. See, e.g., BTOP OVERVIEW OF GRANT AWARDS at 17 (discussing grants that
will lead to 244 miles of new fiber on the U.S. Virgin Islands); RUS AWARDS REPORT at 12 (discussing loans that
will benefit American Samoa). Moreover, we expect that our data will improve in the future allowing us to better
understand availability of broadband in each territory. See, e.g., Seventh Broadband Progress Report at para. 24
(stating that as the SBDD Data improves, so will our deployment estimates).
47 See NTIA, DEP’T OF COMMERCE, BROADBAND TECHNOLOGY OPPORTUNITIES PROGRAM QUARTERLY PROGRAM
STATUS REPORT, 8th Report at 1 (Feb. 2011), available at
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/recovery/BTOP/BTOP_QuarterlyReport_Feb_2011.pdf. NTIA has implemented a
program-wide oversight strategy to “mitigate waste, fraud, and abuse; ensure compliance with award conditions; and
monitor each project’s progress toward its timely completion.” Id. at 2.
48 Id. at 1.
49 In fact, the National Broadband Plan estimated that it would take several times this amount to close the rural
broadband gap. See NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN at 136–37 (estimating that approximately $24 billion would be
required to close the broadband deployment gap for the unserved alone).
10

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

for the construction of broadband facilities in rural areas. Since publication of the 2009 Rural Broadband
Report, RUS has invested $1.52 billion in loans for telecommunications infrastructure that is broadband
capable,50 $13.4 million in grants for broadband in remote rural areas,51 and $71 million in distance
learning and telemedicine (DLT) grants.52 The agency is currently evaluating a new round of grant
applications for distance learning and telemedicine projects and community connect broadband grant
applications,53 and expects to announce results of those competitive funding opportunities before the end
of the year. These programs, combined with BIP investments, have invested more than $4.3 billion in
loans, grants, and combined loan/grant awards to rural service providers and communities.54
16.
Additionally, RUS is in the final stages of completing a set of new regulations to
implement the substantially underserved trust area (SUTA) provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill.55 These
provisions authorize RUS to waive matching requirements, give projects on trust lands the highest
funding priority, and authorize loans with interest rates as low as 2 percent. The SUTA provisions apply
to most RUS loan and grant programs, including the RUS broadband and telecommunications loan
programs. To implement those provisions, RUS conducted 20 government-to-government consultations
on how to craft regulations that ensure maximum impact. SUTA provides a pathway for Tribal
communities to access the RUS telecommunications loan and grant programs more easily as a means for
increasing the rate of deployment and adoption across all Tribal communities.


50 See USDA, USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT 2010 PROGRESS REPORT 32 (USDA 2010 PROGRESS REPORT), available
at
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/supportdocuments/ProgReport2010.pdf; see generally RUS, Farm Bill Broadband
Loan Program, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_farmbill.html.
51 See USDA, USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT 2009 PROGRESS REPORT 10 (USDA 2009 PROGRESS REPORT); see also
RUS, SUMMARIES OF 2009 COMMUNITY CONNECT BROADBAND GRANTS (Sept. 30, 2009), available at
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/2009CommConnectAwards.pdf; see generally RUS, Community
Connect Grant Program, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_commconnect.html.
52 See, e.g., RUS, USDA, PROJECT SELECTION NOTICES FOR DLT GRANT AWARDS FISCAL YEAR 2010 (RUS 2010
DLT GRANT AWARDS), available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/supportdocuments/2010-DLT-Grants.pdf;
USDA 2009 PROGRESS REPORT.
53 The Federal Register published notice of the RUS DLT grant program application window for awards in FY 2011
on February 24, 2011. See Announcement of Solicitation of Applications and Grant Application Deadlines, 76 Fed.
Reg. 10321 (Feb. 24, 2011), available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/supportdocuments/DLTNOSA_FRNotice.pdf.
The application window closed on April 25, 2011. Id.
54 See USDA 2010 PROGRESS REPORT 17; USDA 2009 PROGRESS REPORT.
55 2008 Farm Bill, § 6105, 122 Stat. at 1196; see also USDA Rural Development—Programs Overview, Rural
Utilities Service, Implementation of the SUTA Initiative, available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/suta.html.
Substantially underserved trust areas are trust lands that the Secretary of Agriculture determines have a high need for
the benefits of RUS’s programs. See, e.g., 7 C.F.R. § 1738.3(a). The Federal Register published the 2008 Farm Bill
Broadband Loan program interim final regulations on March 14, 2011. These regulations include specific
instructions for all applicants, including SUTA applicants, seeking the U.S. Treasury rate of interest for broadband
loans. See Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service, Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees,
Interim Rule, 76 Fed. Reg. 13770, 13791 (Mar. 14, 2011). These provisions will enable those seeking to benefit
from SUTA through the broadband loan program to do so immediately. The publication of the new regulations mark
the first time that the broadband loan program has been opened for new applications during the Obama
Administration. The broadband loan program had been in hiatus to give the agency time to draft rules which took
into account the lessons learned from the Recovery Act broadband programs.
11

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

2.

Universal Service/Intercarrier Compensation Reforms

17.
In areas of the country where it is particularly costly to deploy and operate broadband
networks, including many rural areas, federal and state support mechanisms have been used to spur rural
infrastructure investment. The availability of high-quality networks capable of delivering voice and
broadband services lies at the core of our policy objectives. The distance-conquering benefits of
broadband can be a catalyst for community development and economic growth, among other benefits, in
America’s more remote small towns, rural and insular areas, and Tribal lands. After the release of the
National Broadband Plan, the Commission committed to re-examining and modernizing all aspects of its
universal service programs to increase accountability and efficiency while supporting broadband
deployment and adoption. To date, the Commission has adopted some reforms and proposed others.
18.
In February 2011, the Commission proposed near and long-term reforms to modernize
and streamline its universal service and intercarrier compensation rules, and help bring affordable
broadband to all Americans.56 As described in the 2009 Rural Broadband Report, the Commission’s
high-cost USF program has traditionally been focused on ensuring the availability of telecommunications
networks capable of delivering voice services.57 In many cases, rural carriers have used high-cost USF
support to build networks that are also capable of providing data services.58 The USF/ICC
Transformation NPRM
proposes to transform the existing high-cost program into a new, more efficient,
broadband-focused Connect America Fund (CAF) to help make broadband available and affordable in
rural communities.59 The Commission proposes to eliminate waste and inefficiency throughout the
current program, and use the savings to spur investment in broadband in unserved areas.60
19.
The Commission also proposed reforms to the intercarrier compensation system to
reduce waste and inefficiency caused by distorted incentives for many broadband providers, freeing up


56 See generally Connect America Fund; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future; Establishing Just and
Reasonable Rates for Local Exchange Carriers
; High-Cost Universal Service Support; Developing an Unified
Intercarrier Compensation Regime
; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Lifeline and Link-Up, CC
Docket Nos. 96-45, 01-92, GN Docket No. 09-51, WC Docket Nos. 03-109, 05-337, 07-135, 10-90, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 4554 (2011) (USF/ICC
Transformation NPRM
).
57 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12850–51, para. 127.
58 The USF/intercarrier compensation and the RUS loan programs are interrelated. RUS has historically assumed
that its borrowers would receive USF support flows and intercarrier compensation revenues, which can be used for
loan repayment. Annual financial reports that borrowers file with RUS indicate that virtually all of the 487 active
borrowers with outstanding principal from RUS loan programs receive high cost support as well as intercarrier
compensation and that roughly 60% of all BIP awardees collect either federal or state universal service support.
59 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 4562, para. 18; see also NECA et al. Comments at 6
(asserting that reform of the high-cost USF program should promote the deployment of scalable broadband networks
in rural areas that can keep pace with evolving bandwidth demand); NCTA Comments at 2–3, 10–11 (asserting that
steps should be taken to coordinate federal policy so that government subsidies are targeted to areas where there is
no business case for building broadband networks, and to eliminate policies that provide government funding to
incumbent LECs in markets where cable operators and others are willing and able to provide service without
government support).
60 The USF/ICC Transformation NPRM proposes to increase accountability for recipients and for government, and
to more effectively measure program performance. See USF/ICC Transformation NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 4567,
para. 27; see also NCTA Comments at 6 (supporting the proposal to “keep spending at current levels by eliminating
inefficiencies in the existing support mechanisms and using the savings to create a new mechanism that will provide
targeted support only to those areas where there is no business case for investing in broadband facilities”).
12

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

more funds for deployment. To obtain input and engage the public on the reform process, the
Commission has held a series of open workshops on these issues.61 In addition, the Commission sought
comment on the creation of a new Mobility Fund that would significantly expand the availability of 3G
(or better) mobile wireless data networks in areas where availability is currently inadequate.62 The
Mobility Fund would promote deployment by using reclaimed USF funds to provide one-time support to
accelerate efforts to close gaps in mobile wireless service, including in rural areas.63 The proposal asks
about using a reverse auction mechanism in order to make this support available.64
20.
The Commission has also proposed reforms to its low-income programs, which will
benefit all low-income consumers, including those in rural areas.65 For more than two decades, the
Commission’s Lifeline and Link Up programs have helped tens of millions of Americans afford basic
phone service, providing a “lifeline” for essential daily communications as well as emergencies.
Currently, these programs provide eligible households with discounts on initial connection charges (the
Link Up program) and recurring monthly charges (the Lifeline program).66 In March 2011, the
Commission proposed reforming and modernizing the Lifeline and Link Up programs in light of
significant marketplace developments and sought comment on whether to allow eligible households to
use Lifeline discounts on bundled voice and broadband service offerings. The Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (NPRM) also proposed to create a broadband pilot program that would provide a transition
to a potential permanent broadband Lifeline/Link Up program.67
21.
The Commission already has modernized its E-rate program to help schools and libraries
obtain faster and more affordable Internet connections and access 21st century learning tools.68 The
changes to this program include allowing schools and libraries to lease either dark or lit fiber from the


61 See FCC Announces First in a Series of Workshops on Intercarrier Compensation/Universal Service Fund
Reform, FCC Commissioners Seek Public Input in Series of Workshops Aimed at Helping Shape Reforms
, CC
Docket Nos. 96-45, 01-92, WC Docket Nos. 03-109, 05-337, 07-135, 10-90, GN Docket No. 09-51, Public Notice,
26 FCC Rcd 3879 (WCB 2011); FCC Announces Second Workshop on Intercarrier Compensation/Universal
Service Fund Reform, FCC Commissioners Seek Public Input Aimed at Helping Shape Reforms
, CC Docket Nos.
96-45, 01-92, WC Docket Nos. 03-109, 05-337, 07-135, 10-90, GN Docket No. 09-51, Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd
4997 (WCB 2011); FCC Announces May 18 Field Workshop in Omaha, Nebraska on Universal Service
Fund/Intercarrier Compensation Reform
, CC Docket Nos. 96-45, 01-92, WC Docket Nos. 03-109, 05-337, 07-135,
10-90, GN Docket No. 09-51, Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 6232 (WCB 2011).
62 See generally Universal Service Reform; Mobility Fund, WT Docket Nos. 10-208, 10-182, Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 14716 (2010) (Mobility Fund NPRM).
63 Id. at 14719, para. 5.
64 Id.
65 See generally Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service;
Lifeline and Link Up, WC Docket Nos. 03-109, 11-42, CC Docket No. 96-45, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26
FCC Rcd 2770 (2011) (Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization NPRM).
66 See 47 C.F.R. Part 54, Subpart E; 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12854, para. 135.
67 See generally Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 2850–52, 2855–62, paras.
258–65, 275–302 (seeking comment on the best design for such a program); see also, e.g., NCTA Comments at 8
(asserting that the Lifeline/Linkup programs provide an “excellent opportunity for the Commission to make progress
in giving all Americans the opportunity to benefit from broadband services”).
68 See generally Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, A National Broadband Plan for Our
Future
, CC Docket No. 02-6, GN Docket No. 09-51, Sixth Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 18762 (2010) (E-rate
Sixth Report and Order
).
13

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

most cost-effective provider, including non-profit entities.69 The E-rate Sixth Report and Order allows
the use of E-rate funds to support broadband connections to residential areas of schools on Tribal lands
or schools for children with physical, cognitive, or behavioral difficulties.70 That Order also establishes a
“Learning On-The-Go” pilot program to test the merits and challenges of supporting off-premise wireless
connectivity for mobile learning.71
22.
The Commission is assessing telecommunications needs of rural health care providers
through its 2010 NPRM to reform the Rural Health Care Program.72 Among other reforms, the
Commission proposed to replace the existing rural health care Internet access program with a new
“health broadband services program” that would subsidize 50 percent of an eligible rural health care
provider’s recurring monthly costs for any advanced telecommunications and information services that
provide point-to-point broadband connectivity, including dedicated Internet access.73 The Commission
also sought comment on whether it should define a minimum level of broadband capability for purposes
of providing support under this program as well as whether that minimum capability should vary
depending on the type of health care provider.74 The Commission’s proposed rules would largely benefit
rural health care providers that have not participated significantly in the existing program, expanding the
interpretation of “eligible health care provider” to include acute care facilities and administrative offices
and data centers that do not share the same building as the clinical offices.75 These proposals should help
the rural health care program improve health care where the need for it is most acute while making better
use of the currently underutilized $400 million annual funding cap for this program.76
23.
Collectively, these universal service reforms seek to use market-driven and incentive-
based policies to enable all Americans, including those living in rural areas, to share in the benefits of
modern communications technology and to be full participants in the broadband economy.
3.

Spectrum Initiatives

24.
As noted in the 2009 Rural Broadband Report, wireless service plays a critical role in
extending the reach of broadband to rural areas, where wireless technology can provide a less expensive


69 Id. at 18766–73, paras. 9–19.
70 Id. at 18778–79, paras. 31–32.
71 Id. at 18783–87, paras. 41–50. The Commission recently announced the award of a total of approximately $9
million to 20 projects as part of this pilot program, including projects proposed by the following rural applicants: the
Foxfire Center for Student Success, the Haralson County Board of Education, Roy Municipal Schools, and the
Greater Southern Tier Board of Cooperative Educational Services. See Wireline Competition Bureau Announces
Selected Applications for the E-Rate Deployed Ubiquitously (EDU) 2011 Wireless Pilot Program
, WC Docket No.
10-222, Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 3469, 3469–70 (2011).
72 See generally Rural Health Care Universal Service Support Mechanism, WC Docket No. 02-60, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 9371 (2010) (2010 Rural Health Care Reform NPRM).
73 Id. at 9408, para. 93. The existing program provides a flat percent discount on monthly charges for access to the
public Internet for rural health care providers. The discount is 50 percent for health care providers in states that are
entirely rural, and 25 percent for all other rural health care providers. Id. at 9375, para. 5.
74 Id. at 9409, para. 97.
75 Id. at 9373–74, para. 3.
76 Id. at 9376, paras. 8–9. At the time the 2010 Rural Health Care Reform NPRM was released, the program had
only provided $60.7 million in support to eligible health care providers for funding year 2009. Id. at 9376, para. 9.
14

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

means of delivering backhaul and “last-mile” access services.77 By enabling mobility, wireless service
can be particularly important to rural consumers and schoolchildren, who may travel further distances to
reach work and school. Mobile broadband also is vital to public safety in rural areas. Many RUS
telecommunications borrowers have built fiber capacity throughout rural areas that provide much-needed
backhaul to wireless providers as well as public safety entities.
25.
Given the increasing demand for wireless broadband connectivity, the Commission seeks
to make additional spectrum available for wireless broadband.78 The Commission has taken a number of
steps towards repurposing spectrum for the provision of mobile broadband service, including in the 2.3
GHz,79 Mobile Satellite Service,80 and TV bands.81 The Commission also has made additional spectrum
available for unlicensed broadband wireless devices in unused portions of the TV bands, where
propagation characteristics that allow signals to reach farther can be particularly effective in enhancing
broadband access in rural areas.82
26.
In addition, the Commission has pursued a number of other spectrum initiatives that can
increase wireless broadband access in rural areas, including: proposing actions to enable more flexible
and cost-effective microwave backhaul services, which can lower the cost of 3G and 4G wireless service
in rural areas;83 initiating an inquiry regarding how secondary market arrangements can better facilitate


77 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12856, para. 142; see also id. at 12827–32, paras. 78–87
(discussing technological considerations in deploying broadband in rural areas).
78 The National Broadband Plan recommends that the Commission make 500 megahertz of spectrum newly available
for broadband use within the next ten years, of which 300 megahertz between 225 MHz and 3.7 GHz should be made
newly available for mobile use within five years. NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN at 75–76.
79 The Commission has revised its Wireless Communications Service (WCS) technical rules to facilitate the
provision of mobile broadband services, including services to rural areas, in 25 megahertz of spectrum in the 2.3
GHz band. See Amendment of Part 27 of the Commission’s Rules To Govern the Operation of Wireless
Communications Services in the 2.3 GHz Band
, WT Docket No. 07-293, Report and Order and Second Report and
Order, 25 FCC Rcd 11710, 11711, para. 1 (2010).
80 The Commission has taken steps to remove regulatory barriers that would allow access to 90 megahertz of
spectrum allocated to the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) to be available for terrestrial broadband use, while
retaining MSS capability for rural services. See Fixed and Mobile Services in the Mobile Satellite Service Bands at
1525-1559 MHz and 1626.5-1660.5 MHz, 1610-1626.5 MHz and 2483.5-2500 MHz, and 2000-2020 MHz and
2180-2200 MHz
, ET Docket No. 10-142, Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 5710, para. 1 (2011).
81 The Commission has taken preliminary steps to consider repurposing a portion of the TV frequency bands, which
it later expects to make available for flexible use by fixed and mobile wireless communications services, including
mobile broadband. See Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and
Improvements to VHF
, ET Docket No. 10-235, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 16498 (2010).
82 See Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands, Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900
MHz and in the 3 GHz Band
, ET Docket Nos. 04-186, 02-380, Second Memorandum Opinion and Order, 25 FCC
Rcd 18661, 18662, para. 1 (2010) (TV White Spaces Second MO&O).
83 See generally Amendment of Part 101 of the Commission’s Rules To Facilitate the Use of Microwave for Wireless
Backhaul and Other Uses and To Provide Additional Flexibility to Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Operational
Fixed Microwave Licensees
, WT Docket No. 10-153, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry, 25
FCC Rcd 11246 (2010); see also NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN at 77. In the TV White Spaces Second MO&O, the
Commission noted that it intends to consider whether to make available additional spectrum for fixed licensed
backhaul to support broadband services in future proceedings. TV White Spaces Second MO&O, 25 FCC Rcd at
18717, para. 137.
15

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

dynamic spectrum use;84 proposing to address the use of signal boosters to fill gaps in wireless
coverage;85 proposing to modify renewal and performance obligations to increase incentives for build out
in rural areas;86 and proposing mechanisms for promoting greater use of spectrum over Tribal lands.87
The Commission also has required facilities-based providers of commercial mobile data services to offer
data roaming arrangements to other such providers.88 The Commission also has adopted rules and
proposed further rules to ensure the deployment and operation of a nationwide interoperable public safety
broadband network.89 Moreover, as part of a data-driven and transparent approach to spectrum
management, the Commission has completed a baseline spectrum inventory that has resulted in the
release of two tools—LicenseView90 and the Spectrum Dashboard91—that reflect the Commission’s
understanding of where the most significant spectrum opportunities lie.92
27.
These initiatives should increase spectrum access for wireless broadband in all areas of
the country, including in rural areas, and should spur substantial innovation, investment, and economic
growth of the nation.


84 See Promoting More Efficient Use of Spectrum Through Dynamic Spectrum Use Technologies, ET Docket No.
10-237, Notice of Inquiry, 25 FCC Rcd 16632 (2010).
85 See generally Amendment of Parts 1, 2, 22, 24, 27, 90 and 95 of the Commission’s Rules To Improve Wireless
Coverage Through the Use of Signal Boosters
, WT Docket No. 10-4, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd
5490 (2011).
86 See generally Amendment of Parts 1, 22, 24, 27, 74, 80, 90, 95, and 101 To Establish Uniform License Renewal,
Discontinuance of Operation, and Geographic Partitioning and Spectrum Disaggregation Rules and Policies for
Certain Wireless Radio Services
, WT Docket No. 10-112, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order, 25 FCC Rcd
6996 (2010). Among other things, the Commission proposed rules to require an applicant for renewal of a
geographic-area authorization in the Wireless Radio Services to show the extent to which service is provided to rural
areas, and also proposed to standardize its rules regarding the satisfaction of performance obligations in the context
of geographic partitioning and spectrum disaggregation arrangements. See id. at 7006, 7029–33, paras. 23, 91–97.
87 See generally Improving Communications Services for Native Nations by Promoting Greater Utilization of
Spectrum Over Tribal Lands,
WT Docket No. 11-40, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 2623 (2011)
(Native Nations Spectrum NPRM).
88 See generally Reexamination of Roaming Obligations of Commercial Mobile Radio Service Providers and Other
Providers of Mobile Data Services
, WT Docket No. 05-265, Second Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 5411 (2011)
(Commercial Data Roaming Order).
89 Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband,
Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band
, WT Docket No. 06-150, PS Docket No. 06-229, Third
Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 733 (2011); see also Requests
for Waiver of Various Petitioners to Allow the Establishment of 700 MHz Interoperable Public Safety Wireless
Broadband Networks
, PS Docket No. 06-229, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 5145 (2010) (granting, with conditions, waivers to
public safety entities seeking early deployment of statewide or local public safety broadband networks in the 700
MHz public safety spectrum); Requests for Waiver of Various Petitioners to Allow the Establishment of 700 MHz
Interoperable Public Safety Wireless Broadband Networks
, PS Docket No. 06-229, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 17156,
17162, para. 23 (2010) (requiring each operator of an early-deployed network to submit a plan for achieving
significant population coverage within its jurisdiction within ten years of its date of service availability).
90 See FCC License View, REBOOT.FCC.GOV, http://reboot.fcc.gov/license-view.
91 See Spectrum Dashboard, REBOOT.FCC.GOV, http://reboot.fcc.gov/reform/systems/spectrum-dashboard.
92 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12861, para. 150.
16

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

C.

Other Commission Initiatives

28.
The Commission has taken a number of other actions to improve access to robust,
affordable broadband services throughout the country, and to reduce barriers to broadband adoption.
·
Coordination with Native Nations. The Commission established an Office of Native Affairs
and Policy in order to develop and advance an agenda aimed at bringing the benefits of a
modern communications infrastructure to all Native communities.93 To further promote
government-to-government relations with federally recognized American Indian Tribes and
Alaska Native Village governments, the Commission launched the FCC-Native Nations
Broadband Task Force to assist the Commission in fulfilling its commitment to increasing
broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands.94
·
Services on Tribal Lands. The Commission has initiated proceedings to strengthen and
improve access to broadband and telecommunications services for Native Americans. In a
recent Notice of Inquiry, the Commission sought government-to-government consultation
and coordination with federally recognized Tribes and the input of inter-Tribal government
associations, Native representative organizations, and the public on rule and policy changes
aimed at ensuring Native Nations have access to emerging broadband services and
technologies.95 The Commission also proposed amending its rules to expand the efficient
use of spectrum over Tribal lands so as to improve access to mobile wireless
communications in Tribal areas.96 In addition, the Commission included specific proposals
related to broadband access, availability, and service on Tribal lands in the universal service
reform context.97
·
Access to Poles and Rights of Way. Timely and reasonably priced access to poles and rights
of way is critical to the buildout of broadband infrastructure in rural areas.98 The National
Broadband Plan found that the impact of utility pole attachment rates on broadband can be
particularly acute in rural areas, where there often are more poles per mile than households.
In April 2011, as part of its Broadband Acceleration Initiative,99 the Commission took two


93 Establishment of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau,
Order, 25 FCC Rcd 11104 (2010).
94 Chairman Genachowski Names Members to the FCC-Native Nations Broadband Task Force, Public Notice, 26
FCC Rcd 2467 (CGB 2011). The Task Force is comprised of elected and appointed leaders from across the Native
Nations and senior staff and decision-makers from across the Commission. Task Force responsibilities include
assisting in developing and executing a Commission consultation policy, eliciting input to ensure that Native
concerns are considered in all Commission proceedings related to broadband, developing additional
recommendations for promoting broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands, and coordinating with external
entities, including other federal departments and agencies. Id.
95 See Improving Communications Services for Native Nations, CG Docket No. 11-41, Notice of Inquiry, 26 FCC
Rcd 2672, 2674–75, para. 3 (2011).
96 See Native Nations Spectrum NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd 2623.
97 See, e.g., USF/ICC Transformation NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 4602, para. 136; Mobility Fund NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at
14727, para. 33; see generally Further Inquiry into Tribal Issues Relating to Establishment of a Mobility Fund, WT
Docket No. 10-208, Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 5997 (2011).
98 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12864, para. 157.
99 The Commission’s Broadband Acceleration Initiative was launched to explore ways to reduce obstacles to
broadband deployment in partnership with state and local governments and the private sector. Press Release, FCC,
(continued….)
17

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

significant actions to reduce costs and speed access to poles and rights of way. First, the
Commission comprehensively revised its access, rate, and enforcement rules for pole
attachments to improve the efficiency, shorten the time to attach, and reduce the potentially
excessive costs of deploying telecommunications, cable, and broadband networks, in order to
accelerate broadband buildout.100 Second, the Commission launched a comprehensive
inquiry into how it can work with its state, local, Tribal, and federal partners to improve
policies for access to rights of way and for wireless facility siting.101
·
Tower Siting Shot Clock. The 2009 Rural Broadband Report noted that wireless broadband
development in rural areas will depend in part on the ability of providers to access towers
and other structures for the deployment of their network facilities.102 In November 2009, the
Commission adopted a “shot-clock” to speed the deployment of wireless services,
establishing timeframes of 90 days for state and local governments to review collocations of
antennas on existing structures and 150 days for them to review all other wireless facilities
siting applications.103
·
Commercial Data Roaming. The Commission recently adopted a data roaming rule that
requires facilities-based providers of commercial mobile data services to offer data roaming
arrangements to other such providers, which may be particularly important for consumers in
rural areas.104 Widespread availability of data roaming capability will allow consumers with
mobile data plans to remain connected when they travel outside their own provider’s network
coverage areas by using another provider’s network, and thus promote connectivity for and
(Continued from previous page)


The FCC’s Broadband Acceleration Initiative: Reducing Regulatory Barriers To Spur Broadband Buildout (Feb. 9,
2011), available at http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2011/db0209/DOC-304571A2.pdf; see
generally
Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC, Remarks at Broadband Acceleration Conference (Feb. 9, 2011),
available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-304571A1.pdf.
100 See Implementation of Section 224 of the Act; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, WC Docket No. 07-
245, GN Docket No. 09-51, Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, 26 FCC Rcd 5240 (2011). In addition,
in May 2010, the Commission adopted rules that clarified the statutory right of attaching communications providers
to use the same space- and cost-saving techniques that pole owners use, and established that attachers have a
statutory right to timely access to poles. See Implementation of Section 224 of the Act; A National Broadband Plan
for Our Future
, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
25 FCC Rcd 11864, 11865, para. 1 (2010). We note that the Commission’s jurisdiction over poles does not extend
to poles regulated by states nor to pole attachment arrangements that involve cooperatives. See 47 U.S.C.
§ 224(a)(1), (c).
101 Acceleration of Broadband Deployment: Expanding the Reach and Reducing the Cost of Broadband Deployment by
Improving Policies Regarding Public Rights of Way and Wireless Facilities Siting
, WC Docket No. 11-59, Notice of
Inquiry, 26 FCC Rcd 5384 (2011) (Rights of Way and Wireless Facilities Siting NOI).
102 See 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT, 24 FCC Rcd at 12864, para. 158.
103 See Petition for Declaratory Ruling To Clarify Provisions of Section 332(c)(7)(B) To Ensure Timely Siting
Review and To Preempt Under Section 253 State and Local Ordinances that Classify All Wireless Siting Proposals
as Requiring a Variance
, WT Docket No. 08-165, Declaratory Ruling, 24 FCC Rcd 13994 (2009), recon. denied,
Order on Reconsideration, 25 FCC Rcd 11157 (2010), appeal pending sub nom., City of Arlington and City of San
Antonio v. FCC
, Nos. 10-60039 and 10-60805 (5th Cir.). The Commission is seeking ways to improve wireless
facilities siting in the Rights of Way and Wireless Facilities Siting NOI proceeding described above. See supra note
101.
104 See Commercial Data Roaming Order, 26 FCC Rcd 5411.
18

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

nationwide access to mobile data service.
·
Network Openness. In December 2010, the Commission adopted rules to protect network
openness, which will provide greater clarity and certainty regarding the continued freedom
and openness of the Internet, and support the marketplace’s cycle of investment and
innovation, driving increased investment in broadband infrastructure.105
·
Voluntary Commitments. Several applicants of proposed transactions have made voluntary
commitments that will increase rural broadband deployment. Frontier committed to
significantly increase broadband deployment for the 4.8 million lines it purchased from
Verizon, 38 percent of which lacked broadband capability.106 CenturyLink committed to
provide broadband capable of 5 Mbps (download) to almost 80 percent of the living units in
legacy Qwest territory within seven years of closing its merger with Qwest.107 Comcast will
expand its broadband networks to reach approximately 400,000 additional homes, provide
broadband Internet access service in six additional rural communities, and provide free video
and high-speed Internet service to 600 new anchor institutions, such as schools and libraries,
in underserved, low-income areas.108 Comcast and CenturyLink have also committed to
work to improve broadband adoption by offering discounts to qualifying low-income
customers on service and computer equipment, as well as taking actions to improve digital
literacy in their areas.109

III.

CONCLUSION

29.
The benefits of a fully interconnected broadband nation are many. As this update
illustrates, we have progressed in the past two years toward ensuring that all areas of the nation,
including rural areas, have access to robust and affordable broadband and the ability to use it. Programs
such as NTIA’s BTOP and RUS’s BIP programs and RUS’s ongoing telecommunications loan and grant
programs are helping to expand the reach of broadband to rural areas where access has been limited or
unavailable because of cost, distance, density, demographics, and topography. Other actions, such as
completing the modernization of the Commission’s USF program and intercarrier compensation rules,
facilitating wireless solutions, and reducing the costs of deploying broadband facilities on poles, also will
empower entrepreneurs to find cost-effective ways to extend broadband to high-cost rural areas. But
bringing broadband to rural and insular areas of the country is a task of significant cost and complexity
that will require continuation of each of these efforts as well as new initiatives to address any additional
obstacles that come to light. Going forward, industry and policymakers at all levels must work
collaboratively to support and facilitate investment in broadband networks capable of delivering high-
quality broadband services throughout rural America. Notwithstanding the substantial progress to date,
there remains much for the industry as well as the Commission and its partners in federal, state, and


105 See generally Preserving the Open Internet; Broadband Industry Practices, GN Docket No. 09-191, WC Docket
No. 07-52, Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 17905 (2010).
106 See Frontier/Verizon Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 5978, 6001–07, para. 2, App. C. Frontier will also launch an anchor
institution initiative to deploy fiber to libraries, hospitals, and government buildings, particularly in unserved and
underserved communities. Id.
107 CenturyLink/Qwest Merger, 26 FCC Rcd at 4218–20, App. C.
108 Applications of Comcast Corporation, General Electric Company and NBC Universal, Inc. for Consent To
Assign Licenses and Transfer Control of Licensees
, MB Docket No. 10-56, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 26
FCC Rcd 2638, 4378–83, App. A at Part XVI (Jan. 20, 2011).
109 Id. at 4379–81, App. A at Part XVI.2; CenturyLink/Qwest Merger, 26 FCC Rcd at 4200–23, App. C at Part II.
19

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Tribal governments to accomplish before the promise of broadband is realized for all Americans. Our
collective efforts can help the nation reach its goal of bringing broadband to rural America.
20

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Appendix A

List of Commenters

GN Docket No. 11-16

Commenter

Abbreviation

Access Humboldt; Appalshop; California Center for Rural Policy;
Rural Broadband Policy Group
Center for Media Justice; Center for Rural Strategies; Center for
Social Inclusion; Housing Assistance Council; Institute for Local
Self Reliance; Main Street Project; Media Literacy Project;
Mountain Area Information Network
FiberTower Corporation
FiberTower
Hawaiian Telecom, Inc.
Hawaiian Telecom
ID Insight
ID Insight
Mountain Area Information Network
MAIN
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
NCTA
National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc.; National
NECA et al.
Telecommunications Cooperative Association; Organization for the
Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications
Companies; Western Telecommunications Alliance; and Eastern
Rural Telecom Association
SPX Corporation
SPX
Wireless Communications Association International
WCA
Virgin Islands Telephone Corporation
Virgin Islands Telephone
21

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Appendix B

Areas Without Access to Fixed Broadband Services

(SBDD Census Block Data as of June 2010)

State

State

Non-Rural

Proportion of Non-Rural Population

Rural

Proportion of Rural Population

Population

Population

Without Access to Fixed Broadband

Population

Without Access to Fixed Broadband

Service

Service

768 kbps/
3 Mbps/
6 Mbps/
768 kbps/
3 Mbps/
6 Mbps/
200 kbps
768 kbps
1.5 Mbps
200 kbps
768 kbps
1.5 Mbps

Alabama

4,642,855
2,596,703
2.1%
2.6%
14.4%
2,046,152
23.7%
27.9%
47.8%

Alaska

699,160
456,792
1.0%
7.0%
98.1%
242,368
38.7%
50.9%
98.8%

American
Samoa

57,291
3,282
2.7%
21.1%
46.8%
54,009
85.1%
86.1%
98.1%

Arizona

6,640,137
5,827,580
2.6%
5.5%
16.4%
812,557
36.1%
54.7%
81.6%

Arkansas

2,862,065
1,534,788
1.1%
1.4%
21.6%
1,327,277
21.1%
29.6%
44.8%

California

37,273,531
35,146,813
1.6%
8.1%
9.0%
2,126,718
30.9%
49.6%
63.7%

Colorado

4,912,003
4,129,198
0.4%
1.4%
61.2%
782,805
16.4%
27.3%
87.6%

Connecticut

3,526,996
3,092,683
0.0%
0.2%
1.5%
434,313
0.6%
4.3%
11.4%

Delaware

884,837
688,916
0.4%
0.4%
1.3%
195,921
4.8%
5.0%
12.3%

District of
Columbia

588,461
588,461
0.0%
0.1%
0.1%
0
0.0%
0.0%
0.0%

Florida

18,960,414
16,740,803
0.9%
3.1%
3.2%
2,219,611
17.3%
20.3%
27.3%

Georgia

9,869,616
7,135,630
0.5%
1.5%
6.0%
2,733,986
13.5%
19.3%
48.1%

Hawaii

1,305,670
1,180,933
1.2%
1.2%
98.7%
124,737
14.4%
14.4%
100.0%

Idaho

1,537,189
1,046,910
0.7%
1.5%
53.6%
490,279
22.5%
44.1%
83.4%

Illinois

12,919,307
11,368,631
0.1%
0.2%
1.8%
1,550,676
12.9%
23.4%
41.8%

Indiana

6,389,470
4,552,673
7.4%
16.8%
27.6%
1,836,797
49.3%
57.0%
62.5%

Iowa

2,986,982
1,873,321
0.0%
0.5%
2.9%
1,113,661
8.7%
29.9%
59.0%

Kansas

2,781,452
2,018,346
0.4%
0.8%
4.8%
763,106
11.3%
28.1%
53.1%

Kentucky

4,273,951
2,358,095
2.1%
15.1%
55.2%
1,915,856
29.8%
42.9%
78.7%

Louisiana

4,353,196
3,056,115
0.3%
0.9%
7.4%
1,297,081
16.2%
25.1%
44.9%

Maine

1,323,446
525,403
0.3%
0.3%
89.3%
798,043
5.6%
9.9%
93.5%

Maryland

5,726,030
4,898,593
0.3%
0.4%
4.7%
827,437
11.9%
12.3%
27.5%
22

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Appendix B

Areas Without Access to Fixed Broadband Services

(SBDD Census Block Data as of June 2010)

State

State

Non-Rural

Proportion of Non-Rural Population

Rural

Proportion of Rural Population

Population

Population

Without Access to Fixed Broadband

Population

Without Access to Fixed Broadband

Service

Service

768 kbps/
3 Mbps/
6 Mbps/
768 kbps/
3 Mbps/
6 Mbps/
200 kbps
768 kbps
1.5 Mbps
200 kbps
768 kbps
1.5 Mbps

Massachusetts

6,452,290
5,887,771
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
564,519
5.2%
5.5%
5.6%

Michigan

10,121,483
7,483,890
0.3%
0.5%
6.1%
2,637,593
12.6%
23.2%
37.9%

Minnesota

5,257,716
3,707,002
0.0%
0.1%
2.2%
1,550,714
10.2%
25.3%
56.7%

Mississippi

2,925,456
1,404,579
2.2%
3.7%
50.4%
1,520,877
30.2%
33.4%
78.7%

Missouri

5,933,305
4,059,962
0.7%
1.3%
8.5%
1,873,343
29.6%
40.1%
64.8%

Montana

962,763
522,173
2.5%
5.0%
12.1%
440,590
39.8%
56.8%
74.7%

Nebraska

1,783,383
1,271,699
2.3%
5.9%
9.5%
511,684
23.0%
49.3%
83.3%

Nevada

2,721,138
2,499,412
0.0%
0.2%
2.9%
221,726
15.6%
26.1%
47.9%

New
Hampshire

1,336,212
784,283
0.2%
0.3%
11.3%
551,929
9.4%
9.8%
50.3%

New Jersey

8,764,303
8,253,905
0.3%
0.3%
1.3%
510,398
2.8%
2.8%
6.4%

New Mexico

1,997,928
1,511,411
2.7%
8.0%
16.5%
486,517
41.2%
65.9%
77.0%

New York

19,367,631
16,945,181
0.3%
0.5%
9.9%
2,422,450
11.3%
19.3%
48.9%

North Carolina

9,258,426
5,630,139
0.2%
0.3%
34.9%
3,628,287
9.4%
11.6%
44.7%

North Dakota

634,427
355,458
2.3%
5.7%
6.0%
278,969
14.0%
39.9%
59.2%

Ohio

11,478,141
8,799,083
0.2%
0.2%
16.5%
2,679,058
8.2%
10.0%
54.1%

Oklahoma

3,638,334
2,363,957
2.2%
4.5%
11.8%
1,274,377
34.2%
51.4%
71.9%

Oregon

3,808,054
3,015,524
0.8%
2.5%
5.9%
792,530
12.7%
25.1%
33.7%

Pennsylvania

12,435,962
9,469,216
0.9%
1.1%
6.0%
2,966,746
7.9%
9.2%
24.2%

Puerto Rico

3,967,329
1,300,658
5.9%
16.2%
64.8%
2,666,671
64.1%
71.7%
90.5%

Rhode Island

1,063,614
965,903
0.1%
0.2%
0.2%
97,711
2.6%
2.8%
2.8%

South Carolina

4,478,631
2,717,142
1.2%
4.9%
25.4%
1,761,489
16.0%
25.2%
48.4%

South Dakota

802,483
426,069
0.0%
3.4%
4.0%
376,414
9.1%
53.0%
67.5%
23

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Appendix B

Areas Without Access to Fixed Broadband Services

(SBDD Census Block Data as of June 2010)

State

State

Non-Rural

Proportion of Non-Rural Population

Rural

Proportion of Rural Population

Population

Population

Without Access to Fixed Broadband

Population

Without Access to Fixed Broadband

Service

Service

768 kbps/
3 Mbps/
6 Mbps/
768 kbps/
3 Mbps/
6 Mbps/
200 kbps
768 kbps
1.5 Mbps
200 kbps
768 kbps
1.5 Mbps

Tennessee

6,246,411
3,957,214
0.3%
1.0%
2.4%
2,289,197
14.1%
19.6%
34.0%

Texas

24,542,407
20,216,340
0.6%
0.9%
9.4%
4,326,067
16.1%
24.0%
44.9%

U.S. Virgin
Islands

108,599
73,199
0.0%
100.0%
100.0%
35,400
27.1%
100.0%
100.0%

Utah

2,732,286
2,425,015
0.5%
1.9%
4.7%
307,271
15.7%
31.3%
57.1%

Vermont

621,520
237,143
1.0%
1.0%
3.5%
384,377
4.8%
10.5%
32.4%

Virginia

7,884,044
5,724,695
0.7%
0.8%
2.6%
2,159,349
20.0%
21.7%
39.8%

Washington

6,590,248
5,381,330
0.5%
0.7%
2.4%
1,208,918
11.8%
15.9%
26.8%

West Virginia

1,803,723
810,400
4.9%
5.7%
16.4%
993,323
38.1%
45.3%
56.1%

Wisconsin

5,651,858
3,825,905
3.9%
4.1%
8.8%
1,825,953
20.7%
27.9%
58.5%

Wyoming

522,201
335,095
2.3%
34.9%
69.3%
187,106
34.6%
67.3%
90.3%

All Areas

310,406,365
243,181,422
1.0%
3.0%
11.3%
67,224,943
19.9%
28.2%
51.7%
Notes:
1. This appendix shows the total rural and total non-rural population without access to fixed broadband services in each State and U.S. Territory included in our
analysis. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are not included in our analysis because these territories did not provide information in time to be included in
the SBDD Data underlying our analysis. For a definition of “rural,” see supra note 12.
2. We include the following broadband services (with corresponding technology codes): Asymmetric xDSL (10), Symmetric xDSL (20), Other Wireline (all
copper-wire based technologies other than xDSL) (30), Cable Modem—DOCSIS 3.0 (40), Cable Modem—Other (41), optical carrier (fiber to the home) (50),
Terrestrial Fixed Wireless (provisioned/equipped over licensed spectrum (71) or over spectrum used on an unlicensed basis (70)), Electric Power Line (90), and a
catch all category, All Other (0). We do not include mobile wireless services in our analysis because of concerns with the accuracy of the mobile wireless data.
See Seventh Broadband Progress Report, paras. 26–27 & App. F (Technical Appendix) at paras. 17–18.
3. The speed tiers included are 768 kbps/200 kbps, 3 Mbps/768 kbps, and 6 Mbps/1.5 Mbps.
4. For a description of the assumptions underlying the population data used in our analysis, see the Seventh Broadband Progress Report, App. F (Technical
Appendix). Because our source for population data, 2009 GeoLytics data, does not make data available at the census-block level for the U.S. Territories, the
population for these areas was distributed uniformly across each U.S. Territory’s component areas. Id. at para. 38. As a result, the population estimates for the
U.S. Territories may not reflect the actual population in those areas. Id.
24

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Appendix C

Population Without Access to Fixed Broadband Services

(SBDD Census Block Data as of June 2010)

Area

Population

Population Without

Population Without

Percentage of Population

Percentage of Population

Access to 768 kbps/200

Access to 6 Mbps/1.5

Without Access to 768

Without Access to 6

kbps or Faster

Mbps or Faster Fixed

kbps/200 kbps or Faster

Mbps/1.5 Mbps or Faster

Fixed Service

Broadband Service

Fixed Service

Fixed Broadband Service

Rural Areas

67,224,943
13,377,686
34,764,815
19.9%
51.7%

Non-Rural

243,181,422
2,417,470
27,543,544
1.0%
11.3%

Areas
All Areas

310,406,365
15,795,156
62,308,358
5.1%
20.1%

Percentage in

21.7%
84.7%
55.8%

Rural Areas

25

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Appendix D

Overall Fixed Broadband Subscription Rates in Rural Census Tracts

(Form 477 Broadband Data as of June 2010)

State

Total Population

Proportion of Population in

Overall Subscription Rates in Rural Census Tracts

in Rural Census

Rural Census Tracts That

768 kbps/
3 Mbps/ 768 kbps
6 Mbps/

Tracts

Resides in a Rural Census Block

200 kbps
1.5 Mbps

Alabama

2,026,237
89.9%
39.0%
12.9%
3.5%

Alaska

232,548
90.8%
37.6%
10.6%
4.3%

American Samoa

56,399
95.6%
0.0%
0.0%
0.0

Arizona

719,031
84.5%
64.9%
30.3%
6.7%

Arkansas

1,223,909
92.7%
30.5%
8.7%
0.8%

California

1,740,210
84.3%
51.8%
23.9%
12.1%

Colorado

663,612
92.2%
62.9%
26.0%
12.1%

Connecticut

363,726
80.4%
83.8%
52.7%
31.1%

Delaware

187,737
83.9%
66.5
50.5%
**

Florida

1,891,723
83.1%
66.3%
29.9%
14.0%

Georgia

2,457,099
87.0%
49.0%
17.9%
7.4%

Hawaii

89,150
81.6%
63.7%
58.4%
0.0%

Idaho

429,566
90.8%
38.9%
6.5%
0.4%

Illinois

1,369,689
90.3%
39.1%
12.9%
6.2%

Indiana

1,776,994
88.5%
44.8%
22.6%
8.8%

Iowa

1,028,093
96.9%
40.9%
7.5%
0.2%

Kansas

681,579
94.8%
46.2%
11.1%
1.1%

Kentucky

1,862,675
90.8%
38.2%
13.2%
1.1%

Louisiana

1,199,167
87.9%
40.3%
15.7%
2.1%

Maine

774,903
91.8%
55.0%
13.9%
1.4%

Maryland

780,457
85.0%
63.4%
47.0%
35.0%

Massachusetts

403,061
76.5%
93.1%
77.0%
46.0%

Michigan

2,572,809
90.7%
41.0%
26.7%
7.1%

Minnesota

1,447,110
94.0%
45.0%
12.6%
4.3%

Mississippi

1,515,485
92.2%
29.2%
6.3%
2.1%

Missouri

1,760,448
93.5%
31.6%
7.5%
1.1%

Montana

415,588
93.1%
42.2%
12.9%
0.5%

Nebraska

480,052
98.3%
43.6%
12.9%
0.8%

Nevada

157,666
83.7%
63.1%
31.7%
**
26

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Appendix D

Overall Fixed Broadband Subscription Rates in Rural Census Tracts

(Form 477 Broadband Data as of June 2010)

State

Total Population

Proportion of Population in

Overall Subscription Rates in Rural Census Tracts

in Rural Census

Rural Census Tracts That

768 kbps/
3 Mbps/ 768 kbps
6 Mbps/

Tracts

Resides in a Rural Census Block

200 kbps
1.5 Mbps

New Hampshire

490,413
90.9%
72.3%
37.7%
26.6%

New Jersey

384,730
81.2%
84.3%
61.8%
50.7%

New Mexico

428,048
87.9%
35.5%
11.3%
1.0%

New York

2,371,904
87.3%
65.0%
35.2%
7.7%

North Carolina

3,493,755
88.2%
52.1%
12.3%
1.4%

North Dakota

268,768
97.8%
48.5%
18.9%
6.7%

Ohio

2,481,381
89.4%
46.3%
9.7%
1.0%

Oklahoma

1,181,490
93.7%
29.1%
6.4%
0.8%

Oregon

694,319
87.3%
59.3%
31.0%
18.3%

Pennsylvania

2,961,142
84.2%
58.6%
30.0%
16.1%

Puerto Rico

1,801,776
81.6%
10.8%
**
0.0%

Rhode Island

96,388
77.7%
**
**
**

South Carolina

1,683,746
87.7%
44.8%
10.9%
3.3%

South Dakota

337,537
96.7%
38.4%
15.5%
6.5%

Tennessee

2,229,085
87.6%
38.4%
19.5%
10.2%

Texas

3,938,365
87.7%
40.2%
11.8%
2.6%

U.S. Virgin Islands

41,456
66.2%
3.7%
0.0%
0.0%

Utah

264,889
84.9%
50.1%
21.0%
7.1%

Vermont

382,462
92.3%
57.9%
46.0%
**

Virginia

2,096,297
91.5%
40.2%
24.4%
11.1%

Washington

1,104,075
87.5%
54.5%
28.8%
17.8%

West Virginia

969,681
89.6%
37.8%
19.2%
3.0%

Wisconsin

1,654,780
93.5%
45.2%
15.0%
2.8%

Wyoming

167,499
95.2%
39.8%
16.9%
0.6%

All Rural Areas

61,830,709
88.8%
45.9%
18.9%
7.1%
Notes:
1. For purposes of this Appendix, a census tract is designated as “rural” if at least 50% of the population in the census tract resides in a rural census block as
designated by the 2000 Census. See supra para. 11. Our analysis of Form 477 data employs the same rural designations that we use above in analyzing SBDD
27

UPDATE TO 2009 RURAL BROADBAND REPORT

Data. See supra note 12. Because those designations exclude Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, see supra Appendix B at note 1, our analysis of Form 477
data also excludes those territories.
2. We include the following broadband services: Asymmetric xDSL, Symmetric xDSL, Other Wireline (all copper-wire based technologies other than xDSL),
Cable Modem, Optical Carrier (fiber to the home), Terrestrial Fixed Wireless (provisioned/equipment over licensed spectrum or over spectrum used on an
unlicensed basis), Electric Power Line, Satellite, and a catch all category, All Other. We exclude mobile wireless services because the subscription data for these
services are only collected at the state level.
3. For each state, the overall subscription rate is calculated by dividing the number of residential subscribers to the broadband service in all of the state’s rural
census tracts by the number of households in these census tracts.
**Data withheld to maintain firm confidentiality.
28

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