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FCC report says more than half of Internet connections are too slow

A new FCC report on the Internet said more than two-thirds — or 68 percent — of Internet access connections in the United States are too slow to be called broadband.

Of 90,963,000 Internet connections considered, the FCC said one or both downstream and upstream measures fail to qualify as high-speed, according to the FCC’s benchmark in the FCC’s “Sixth Broadband Deployment Report.” That standard is 4Mb/s downstream and 1Mb/s upstream.

The report also found that about 39 percent of 51,573,000 connections were too slow in both directions, while about 19 percent of 25,021,000 connections were too slow downstream only, and about 11 percent were too slow upstream. The semi-annual study “summarizes information about Internet access connections over 200kb/s in at least one direction in service in the United States.” In this case, the data is from Dec. 31, 2009.

There were some findings that suggest the investments by cable and telco nets have been paying off: Between 1999 and 2009, the total fixed-location connections grew from 2 million to 81 million — a compound annual growth rate of 42 percent.

Over the same period, residential fixed-location connections grew from fewer than 2 million connections to 74 million — a compound annual growth rate of 45 percent. Household adoption rates increased from three per hundred households to 60.

However, the FCC’s report drew harsh criticism from the consumer group, Free Press, who called it “highly flawed and misleading.”

The group said it wants the FCC to gather data on where networks actually are, rather than subscribers. The current data doesn’t reflect where there is no broadband availability. The FCC promised in the broadband plan to refine its data collection to reflect where the infrastructure is, but has not made that change yet.

S. Derek Turner, the Free Press’s research director, said the FCC study’s shortcomings were “inexcusable” and suggested that “Chairman Genachowski’s commitment to run a ’data-driven’ agency is thus far just an empty slogan.”