Survey Shows NTCA Members Battling Obstacles to Provide Higher Broadband Speeds

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kelly Wismer, 703-351-2015  , kwismer@ntca.org
 

Arlington, Va. (August 23, 2017)The nation’s small, independent telecommunications providers continue to make significant progress in providing high-speed broadband to rural Americans despite high deployment costs and regulatory uncertainty, according to a new survey by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.

 

The “NTCA 2016 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report” found that 89% of survey respondents cited the cost to deploy fiber infrastructure as the No. 1 barrier to its widespread availability. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents currently deploying fiber serve at least 50% of their customers using fiber to the home (FTTH). Eighty-two percent of survey respondents indicated they had a long-term fiber deployment strategy. Thirty-nine percent of those respondents with a fiber deployment strategy plan to offer fiber to the node to more than 75% of their customers by year-end 2019, while 66% plan to offer fiber to the home to at least 50% of their customers over the same time frame. An additional 31% have already completed fiber deployments to all customers.

Additionally, survey respondents are making higher-speed broadband service available to customers who want it. Sixty-seven percent of respondents’ customers can receive a maximum downstream speed of greater than 25 Mbps and 20% can receive between 10 Mbps and 25 Mbps. While take rates traditionally lag behind availability, rural consumers are increasingly subscribing to higher broadband speeds. In the 2016 report 17% of respondents’ customers subscribed to broadband service in excess of 25 Mbps, versus 8% a year ago. And 60% percent subscribe to service of 4 Mbps or greater, versus 55% a year ago. The overall broadband take rate remains relatively constant at 72% this year compared to 73% last year.

“NTCA members are the proven broadband solutions providers for their communities, living in the communities they serve and providing critically important broadband service to community anchor institutions,” said NTCA Manager of Economic Research and Analysis Rick Schadelbauer, the report’s author. “In so doing, they make significant contributions to the safety, health and overall well-being of their customers. Their service helps facilitate the overall viability of rural America.”

Twenty-nine percent of NTCA members participated in the online survey in the spring of 2017. The survey comprised general questions about the respondents’ current operations, competition, marketing efforts, and current and planned fiber deployment. Additional questions addressed the Internet backbone, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), and video. The full report is available online.

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.