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November 20, 2009 - Fiber Deployment, Faster Broadband on Rise in Rural America

Annual NTCA survey shows broadband widely available in nation's high-cost areas

Arlington, Va., November 20, 2009 - A new survey by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) reveals that small rural communications providers are deploying fiber at an impressive pace, bringing faster high speed broadband service to America's rural communities.

NTCA's 2009 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents with a fiber deployment strategy intend to offer fiber to the node to more than 75% of their customer base by 2011. Fifty-five percent plan to offer fiber to the home to more than half their customers in that same time frame-more than doubled from just 26% last year.

Rural areas are seeing significant gains in broadband speeds, primarily due to the increased fiber availability in their communities, according to the survey. Fifty-three percent of respondents indicated their customers can now receive broadband service of between 3 and 6 Mbps (up from 46% last year), and 39% can receive service in excess of 6 Mbps-an increase from just 25% one year ago. Survey respondents indicated an increase in take rates for the higher broadband speed tiers as well.

Fiber deployment costs remain a significant impediment facing rural carriers, cited as an obstacle by 93% of survey respondents. Rugged terrain, distance and low customer density exacerbate the problem.

Contact Caitlin Colligan at 703-351-2086

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents now offer a video play, up from 68% last year. Of those, 93% offer video under a cable franchise. An additional 11% indicated they plan an offering in the future. Most (89%) respondents indicated they face competition in the provision of advanced services from at least one other service provider, including national Internet service providers, cable companies and wireless Internet service providers.

NTCA sent the 2009 survey electronically to all telco members in its e-mail database and 156 companies (31%) responded. Fifty-six percent of respondents' service areas are 500 square miles or larger; 27% are at least 2000 square miles. Sixty-seven percent of those have customer densities of 10 residential customers or less per square mile, with nearly one third (31%) reporting customer densities of just two or fewer residential customers per square mile.

View the survey report
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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.