It's been nearly a year since the Federal Communications Commission voted to reclassify the definition of broadband from a paltry 4Mbps down / 1Mbps up to its current definition of 25Mbps down / 3Mbps up. While that may still sound slow to some, what's really concerning is that roughly 34 million Americans still lack access to fixed broadband at that bare minimum speed.
In a draft of his 2016 Broadband Progress Report, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that despite continued progress in broadband deployment, advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to all Americans.
Wheeler pointed to a persistent urban / rural digital divide that has left 39 percent of those living in rural areas without access to fixed broadband. To put the figure into perspective, only four percent of the urban population lacks the same access.
It's even worse for those living on tribal lands as 41 percent of residents can't obtain a fixed broadband connection. Wheeler also said that 41 percent of schools have yet to meet the FCC's short-term goal of 100Mbps per 1,000 students / staff. Schools that haven't yet reached the goal are responsible for educating 47 percent of the country's students.
On a global scale, Wheeler notes that the US ranks 16th out of 34 developed nations.
Wheeler is expected to circulate his final report to fellow commissioners at a January 28 meeting.