Broadband Access in 90% of Computer Households
More people have broadband, but do they have fast enough broadband?
Broadband penetration continues to rise. About 90% of households that have computers have broadband access, according to a recent report from the Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) http://www.leichtmanresearch.com/press/090412release.html. Broadband penetration was 65% back in 2007.
But even with broadband so much more widely deployed, will the broadband access these users have be enough? Not with the growth of entertainment, TV, and social networking communications.
The definition of broadband needs to change. The FCC definition of broadband can found at "What's Broadband". As defined by the FCC, broadband is any Internet service that has a speed of at least 200 kbps in one direction--not very fast for today's traffic.
The FCC has been soliciting comments on this definition. Many of the comments recommend raising the defined minimum broadband speed to at least 768 kbps. There are many in the industry that believe that even 768 kbps is too low a speed to define broadband, because most experiences with video, music and picture files really need higher speeds. If the broadband speed definition is raised to 768 kbps, then the 2G wireless service is too slow to qualify and many 3G connections would probably not meet a new broadband definition. 4G will probably be considered a broadband service under a new definition at 768 kbps.
The survey by LRG was conducted by phone with 1,351 households in the U.S. The report results are summarized in the table below.
The digital divide is still evident for low income households earning less than $30,000. The report also demonstrates that 41% of these households do not have a computer, 48% do not have Internet access at home and 53% do not have broadband access. This last point has stimulated the FCC to propose to use Universal Service Funds (USF) to help low income and rural communities afford broadband access.
The LRG report also found:
* 65% of the surveyed households are satisfied with their Internet service while 3% were not happy.
* Most Internet subscribers--about 76%--do not know their Internet access speeds.
* Of those surveyed, 2% said they cannot get broadband in their area, a decrease from 6% in 2008.
One element that is not clear is broadband business access at home. I think availability here is much higher than many people believe. For example, I have 25 Mbps symmetrical service for my home office.
The expanding forms of traffic are mentioned in the report, including the growth of entertainment traffic. Another report, The "Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016" has additional projections:
* The compound annual growth rate of global IP traffic is 34%.
* Internet capacity will be 4 times bigger in 2014 than in 2009.
* Peer-to-peer (P2P) will decline. Video streaming will be the #1 bandwidth consumer in 2014.
* Video, P2P, TV, etc. will represent 91% of traffic in 2014.
The Cisco figures offer further evidence that the broadband services speed definition will need to be raised considerably.