NTCA Survey: Broadband Widespread in Rural America

High-speed Internet, Video widely available; take-rates climbing slowly but steadily

August 15, 2006, Arlington, Va. - Broadband availability in rural areas is comprehensive, and take rates continue to grow in the rural and high-cost areas served by independent communications providers, according to new survey results from the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA).

One hundred percent of respondents to NTCAs annual Broadband/Internet Availability offer broadband to some part of their customer base, and 15% of respondents customers are taking their 200 to 500 kbps offering (up from 12% a year ago, a one-year growth rate of 25%.) Nearly all companies (98%) provide broadband to their customers via digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, though a wide variety of technologies are utilized to deliver the service. Twenty-eight percent utilize fiber to the home (FTTH) or fiber to the curb (FTTC), 22% utilize unlicenced wireless, 15% satellite and 13% licensed wireless.

The survey also found that an increasing number of independent communications providers are offering video service--largely in response to mounting competition from cable companies offering voice service. More than half (59%) of respondents currently offer video service, with an additional 25% planning to deploy video no later than year-end 2008. Additionally, nearly three-quarters of respondents are planning to offer voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service "in the near future," though only three percent do so currently. Contact Caitlin Colligan at 703-351-2086

While 86% of survey respondents indicated that they face competition from at least one other broadband services provider, nearly two-thirds stated that their competitors serve only the cities and small towns in their service areas.

Adequate access to a primary Internet backbone connection continues to threaten independent telcos ability to compete with larger carriers in offering high-quality broadband service, the survey showed. Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated they have access to only one or two Internet backbone providers, despite the fact that the average survey respondent already traverses more than 125 miles to reach their primary backbone connection.

NTCA sent the 2006 survey to each of its 560 member companies. 120 companies (21% responded).

View survey report

The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 560 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies throughout rural and small-town America. NTCA provides its members with legislative, regulatory and industry representation; meetings; publications and educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.