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Broadband Availability Update: New FCC Data for December 2020

Broadband Availability Update: New FCC Data for December 2020

The FCC released the second of its twice-yearly data on broadband availability on October 29, showing data as of December, 2020. The data, which are available at the Census Block level, show a continued increase in availability and speeds. TPI’s Broadband Map incorporated the new data as soon as the FCC released it.

Highlights of the new data:

  • The share of households with access to 25/3, 100/20, and 100/100 all increased by about one percentage point from June 2020 to December 2020.
  • The median of the maximum available download speeds across counties increased from about 695 Mbps in June 2020 to about 740 Mbps in December 2020.
  • The median of the maximum available upload speeds across counties increased from about 131 Mbps in June 2020 to about 155 Mbps in December 2020.

Figure 1 shows changes in the share of households with broadband availability at different speeds.

Figure 1: Share of households with access to speed tiers over time

Source: Derived from FCC Form 477 and U.S. Census American Community Survey, Calculated by TPI Broadband Map

Figure 2 shows a time-lapse of increases in 25/3 availability across the country, Figure 3 shows a time-lapse of increases in 100/20 availability, and Figures 4 – 6 show the share of households with access to 25/3, 100/20, and 100/100 by congressional district as of December 2020.

figure 2: change in access to 25/3 service across states, December 2015 – December 2020

Source: Derived from FCC Form 477 and U.S. Census American Community Survey, Calculated by TPI Broadband Map

figure 3: change in access to 100/20 service across states, December 2015 – December 2020

Source: Derived from FCC Form 477 and U.S. Census American Community Survey, Calculated by TPI Broadband Map

figure 4: share of households with access to 25/3 by congressional district, december 2020

Source: Derived from FCC Form 477 and U.S. Census American Community Survey, Calculated by TPI Broadband Map

figure 5: share of households with access to 100/20 by congressional district, december 2020

Source: Derived from FCC Form 477 and U.S. Census American Community Survey, Calculated by TPI Broadband Map

FIGURE 6: SHARE OF HOUSEHOLDS WITH ACCESS TO 100/100 BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, DECEMBER 2020

Source: Derived from FCC Form 477 and U.S. Census American Community Survey, Calculated by TPI Broadband Map

Similarly, available speeds continue to increase, as well (Figure 7).

figure 7: median available maximum download and upload speeds over time

Source: FCC Form 477 data, as calculated by TPI Broadband Map. Note that different methods of calculating these numbers will yield somewhat different results. The TPI Broadband Map estimates the average maximum available speed in any given geography by taking the reported maximum speed available in each Census Block, multiplying by the block population times the percent of the census block in the selected geography, and summing those for each geography, and dividing by the sum of the population for the geography. This particular figure shows part of the distribution of speeds at the county level.

caveats

As is widely understood, the nature of the Form 477 data means that it overstates availability. The main cause of this issue is that a Census Block is considered to be served by an ISP if the ISP has at least one customer in the Block. Thus, Census Blocks in which few people have coverage are considered covered in this data. The FCC’s new broadband fabric data is one attempt to address this issue.

The implication is that the share of households with coverage and maximum available speeds stated here as calculated from the 477 data are too high. Still, this problem should not affect trends, and the data show broadband in the U.S. continuing to improve.

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