Skip to main content

FCC Tracks High-Speed Wireless Internet Access

On the only day that it was open last week, the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau released High-Speed Services for Internet Access: Status as of Dec. 31, 2008 [PDF].

The report considers Internet connections "high speed" if they are over 200 kbps in at least one direction. Maps illustrate coverage options in the 50 states. The trends in wireless connections are interesting.

In June 2005, the number of "advanced services" (200 kbps or more in both directions) satellite Internet connections was 11,000, fixed wireless 191,000 and mobile wireless 21,000. As of Dec. 2008--the last period covered by the report--the number of fixed wireless connections had more than doubled, to 397,000 and the number of satellite connections increased 10 times, to 110,000, However, even though the number of mobile wireless advanced services connections exploded to 14,545,000, there were not as many as the number of wired cable modem connections (40,415,000). DSL connections numbered 26,562,000.

Shortwave listeners, ham radio operators and other users of the high frequency and low VHF bands will be happy to see that high speed "power line and other" connections has remained at 5,000 since the first count in June 2005.

For mobile wireless, some 8,364,000 connections had download speeds between 768 kbps and 1.5 Mbps. Only 138,000 connections had speeds of at least 3 Mbps, and none were above 6 Mbps.

I expect the next report will show both the total number of mobile wireless connections and the speed of those connections will increase at the same or close to the same rate as in the past. As mobile wireless grows, it will be interesting to see how this impacts fixed wireless and satellite wireless connections. As mobile wireless carriers roll out LTE and WiMAX, we should also see a large increase in the number of mobile wireless connections at speeds over 3 Mbps.