Published 12:03 am Saturday, January 31, 2015


FCC: More than half of rural Alabama doesn’t have fast enough Internet

In a face-paced, Web-driven world, it’s often thought that the majority of folks have access to broadband services.

Broadband is needed for jobs, education, civic engagement and economic competitiveness.

An analysis by the Federal Communications Commission, which was released Friday shows that more than half of Americans do not have adequate service.

However, 56 percent of rural Alabamians are without access to broadband with the FCC’s benchmark speeds of 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.

Rural Alabamians account for 1.98 million of the total state population and 1.11 million of that number is without the essential Internet capability.

Thirty-five percent of Alabamians are also without that same access.

Alabama is well behind the national average, where 17 percent of Americans lack access overall, and more than half of rural residents lack access.

That equates to 1.7 million of the state’s total 4.8 million people.

Compared to urban areas, 0.5 percent of the 2.89 million people who live in urban Alabama are without access to broadband services.

The FCC recently upgraded its standards from the 4 Mbps and 1 Mbps set in 2010.

“High-speed Internet access has become fundamental to modern life, whether we are on the job, at home, or going to school,” said Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC. “Broadband connectivity can overcome geographic isolation and put a world of information and economic opportunity at the fingertips of citizens in even the most remote communities.”

The study shows that the recommended speeds are necessary in today’s world to accommodate the increasingly bandwidth-intensive demands from homes and businesses.

“In today’s world, bandwidth-intensive video is the dominant broadband application,” the study shows. “Indeed, streaming video and audio comprises 63 percent of downstream traffic with each video stream typically requiring from 5 to 25 Mbps.

Statistics show that users need more than 10 Mbps to participate in an online class, download files and stream a movie at the same time within one house; to view two high definition videos on separate devices at the same time; or to steam one 4K television service.

An average American household with children has more than four people living in the home and has at least seven Internet-connected devices on a shared, broadband network.