As we approach the new decade, access to the internet has become what access to electricity was in the early 1900s: a need for contemporary existence that is no longer optional. It will be the subject of the following data-driven series, which will examine the current status of broadband deployment in the United States during 2010 and provide a glimpse into the future, analyzing where and how improved deployment technologies will affect our development in the next decade. Although difficult to define, the internet has been a revolutionary force throughout 2010 and into 2011. Services that many of us rely on daily did not exist before the turn of the century, and events in cyberspace increasingly impact the world.
Broadband Deployment in the United States from 2010 To 2020
Despite a decade of fast technological progress and massive government expenditure, the United States suffers from a significant digital divide. Copper telephone wires were used to connect this area to the rest of the world in the early days of the internet. This has resulted in a type of “first mover” problem: America pioneered the web, and the “technical debt” incurred by all of the money invested in now-outdated copper networks makes it challenging to justify reinvesting in new networks on a large scale.
From 2010 to 2020, the proportion of Americans who have access to high-speed internet climbed from an expected 74.5 percent to 93.5 percent, as seen by the light blue line above. A navy dot depicts the previous government broadband requirement of 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, which was amended in 2015 to the current norm of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
The information presented in this study was gathered from various public and private sources. The statistics on backbone deployment come from the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 deployment report, which has included “percent unserved” as qualifying criteria for many years. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission stopped deleting this statistic instead of listing “percent serviced.” This information has been utilized in this report to construct the inverse “percent unserved,” just as the Federal Communications Commission did in years previous to 2017. This includes all terrestrial and electrical connections, as well as wireless connections. The dataset does not contain information on satellite and cellular coverage.
Although fiber-optic connections account for the vast bulk of the internet’s backbone infrastructure, the future-proofed link is still only accessible to 25 percent of the population of the United States. On the other hand, China has expanded its fiber infrastructure to the point that it has achieved 86 percent national penetration.
For the time being, cable remains the most popular mode of connection among Americans, and this does not seem to be changing anytime soon. Millions of households are connected to the cable internet connection. Although it is not as resistant to technological developments as fiber, the cable has a maximum capacity that can increase in the future.
Fixed Wireless Access Points
During the last ten years, fixed wireless has seen phenomenal expansion, with hundreds of new local service providers sprouting up all across the United States. According to Cisco, average fixed wireless network speeds have improved by more than 250 percent in only the last five years, underlining their potential to help close the digital divide in the future years.
While digital subscriber line connections are relatively prevalent in the United States, the technology has reached its maximum capacity, and only a small number of fresh installations are taking place.
Changes in Policy
Broadband in the Community
Local community networks were starting to take form in some sections of the nation in 2010 when this article was written. The situation has improved year after year as dozens of towns and localities have taken things into their own hands, constructing municipal infrastructure and forming cooperatives that today offer some of the most excellent internet services in the country.
As of the beginning of the decade, net neutrality safeguards were a formal requirement under the law. With these restrictions in place, no Internet service provider (ISP) could block, slow down, or charge additional costs for accessing particular online material. This was essentially the case until 2017 when President Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (headed by AjitPai) repealed the safeguards in a decision that is now being challenged in courts around the country.
State-By-State Deployment of Broadband Services
To understand where progress has been achieved and where infrastructure is at a standstill, it is helpful to look at the rates of broadband development within each state, which can be found in the table below. The deployment rates throughout all 50 states are shown in the following graphs, organized according to their respective rates of increase from 2010 to 2020. It is also essential to observe the lack of growth in largely rural states like Utah, which has witnessed minimal progress, particularly in the previous five years.
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