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FCC: Broadband Deployment Still Not Timely, Reasonable

8/21/2012 12:57 PM Eastern

The FCC has once again concluded that broadband is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner, suggesting that mark won't be hit until there is 100% penetration. That conclusion did not sit well with the FCC Republicans, who dissented from the findings.

That came in its latest 706 Report, which is a congressionally mandated report on the state of advanced communications deployment.

Republicans Robert McDowell and Ajit Pai dissented from the conclusion. That marks the third year the commission has come up with that answer based on the number of still-unserved people and the third time the commission's Republicans -- formerly McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker -- have dissented.

While the report finds that there have been significant and substantial steps taken by the public and private industry to accelerate deployment, it cites the approximately 19 million Americans "in areas still unserved by terrestrial-fixed broadband" and concludes that for that, and "other reasons," it must conclude "that broadband is not yet being deployed to "all Americans' in a reasonable and timely fashion."

That came despite the report's detailing of the major strides cable operators and others have made toward deployment and adoption, including "billions invested by the communications industry in broadband deployment, including next-generation wired and wireless services" and "expansion of networks technically capable of 100 megabit-plus speeds to over 80 percent of the population through cable's DOCSIS 3.0 rollout."

In his statement on the report, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski suggested that there was still a big gap between that 80% availability and actual speeds. "Industry reports that the upgrade of cable infrastructure to DOCSIS 3.0 technology means that more than 80% of Americans have access to networks technically capable of 100 Mbps or more," he said, "[b]ut our data show that just 27% of Americans are being offered broadband services at those speeds today, and U.S. prices for these higher speed services exceed many other countries."

Senior Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell said that broadband rollout had been "swift and strong," and said he was disappointed that, yet again, the majority had "decided to clutch to its earlier negative findings."

September