January 29, 2016

While the nation continues to make progress in broadband deployment, many Americans still lack access to advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings, especially in rural areas and on Tribal lands, according to the 2016 Broadband Progress Report adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to report annually on whether advanced telecommunications capability “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,” and to take “immediate action” if it is not.  Congress defined advanced telecommunications capability as “high-quality” capability that allow users to “originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video” services.

In the Report, the Commission determines that advanced telecommunications requires access to both fixed and mobile broadband services because more Americans use mobile services and devices to access the Internet for activities like navigation, communicating with family and friends and on social media, and receiving timely news updates away from home.  The Commission also retains the existing speed benchmark of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload (25 Mbps/3 Mbps) for fixed services, but finds that the current record is insufficient to set an appropriate speed benchmark for mobile service.

While the Commission finds that it is reasonable to apply the same speed benchmarks to all fixed services, including fixed terrestrial and fixed satellite broadband service, the Commission continues to observe different technical capabilities and adoption patterns between fixed terrestrial and fixed satellite service.  Because no fixed satellite broadband service meets the 25 Mbps/3Mbps speed threshold as of the reporting period, the Report does not address the question of whether fixed satellite broadband services meeting this speed threshold would be considered to provide advanced telecommunications capability.   

Significant progress in broadband deployment has been made, due in part to the Commission’s action to support broadband such as through its Universal Service programs. However, the Commission finds that these advances are not enough to ensure that advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way.

Key findings include the following:

  • 10 percent of all Americans (34 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service. 
  • 39 percent of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
    • By contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
    • The availability of fixed terrestrial services in rural America continues to lag behind urban America at all speeds:  20 percent lack access even to service at 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 1 percent from 2011, and 31 percent lack access to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 4 percent from 2011.
  • 41 percent of Americans living on Tribal lands (1.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband
    • 68 percent living in rural areas of Tribal lands (1.3 million people) lack access.
  • 66 percent of Americans living in U.S. territories (2.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
    • 98 percent of those living in rural territorial areas (1.1 million people) lack access.
  • Americans living in rural and urban areas adopt broadband at similar rates where 25 Mbps/ 3 Mbps service is available, 28 percent in rural areas and 30 percent in urban areas.
  • While an increasing number of schools have high-speed connections, approximately 41 percent of schools, representing 47 percent of the nation’s students, lack the connectivity to meet the Commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.

This Report concludes that more work needs to be done by the private and public sectors to expand robust broadband to all Americans in a timely way.  The FCC will continue working to accelerate broadband deployment and to remove barriers to infrastructure investment, in part by direct subsidies, and in part by identifying and helping to reduce potential obstacles to deployment, competition, and adoption.

Relevant Data


These maps show fixed broadband deployment as described in the 2016 Broadband Progress Report.  They rely on the Commission’s Form 477 data, as of December 31, 2014.  Enter your address in the header of a map to view information about deployment of residential fixed services in your area.  Click and zoom out to see information about neighboring areas, your county, your state or the U.S.  Tribal lands and urban areas can be displayed by clicking the appropriate box in the legend.  Click on the symbol in the upper left hand corner next to + and – to change the view from a street view to a satellite or a terrain view.  Areas without population are shown without color. 

Other Information

Date Last Updated or Reviewed: 
Fri, 01/29/2016