It’s not easy bringing broadband service to the most rural parts of this country: among the inherent challenges are low population densities, rugged terrain, and a smaller customer base over which to spread deployment costs.
Yet despite these impediments, NTCA member companies continue to not only bring service to these remote areas, but to bring faster speeds to more and more of their customers, as illustrated by the newly-released NTCA 2016 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report.
The survey finds NTCA member companies utilizing a wide variety of technologies to bring broadband to their customers: 41% utilize fiber to the home (FTTH), 36% copper loops, 12% cable modem, 9% fiber to the node (FTTN), and 2% licensed or unlicensed wireless, and satellite. And the service they provide is robust: 67% of respondents’ broadband customers can receive service of greater than 25 megabits per second (Mbps), 20% service between 10 and 25 Mbps, and 7% service between 6 and 10 Mbps.
The overall broadband take rate is 72%. Forty-one percent of respondents’ customers subscribe to service of greater than 10 Mbps, and 17% take service of greater than 25 Mbps.
Eighty-two percent of survey respondents have a long-term fiber deployment strategy. Thirty-nine percent expect to offer FTTN to more than 75% of their customers by year-end 2019, and 66% expect to be able to provide FTTH to at least half their customers by then.
Doing so will require overcoming several significant barriers, however. Eighty-nine percent of respondents cited the cost of fiber deployment as an impediment, 54% cited regulatory uncertainty, and 52% long loops.
Seventy percent of survey respondents offer video to their customers, and an additional 4% intend to do so by year-end 2019. Those providing video face their own set of challenges, including obtaining access to reasonably-priced programming (cited by 98% of those respondents currently offering video), competing with other video providers (76%), and making a business case for video service (61%.)
NTCA’s broadband survey was conducted in the spring of 2017, and 29% of NTCA’s member companies took part. The results allow the association to share members’ stories with policymakers in Washington.