The FCC issued its latest Internet Access Services report for the period ending December 31, 2012, which provide details on fixed and mobile broadband in the United States. Total broadband connections were 261.7 million, consisting of 92.6 million fixed and 169.2 million mobile broadband connections.
Some highlights from the report include the following:
55% of fixed broadband subscribers receive download speeds > 10 Mbps (up from 48% in 1H12 and 46% in 2011);
59% of mobile broadband subscribers receive download speeds < 3.0Mbps (down from 69% in 1H12 and 78% in 2011)
Mobile Broadband experienced the strongest year-over-year growth at 19 percent, followed by FTTH at 45 percent, while overall fixed broadband grew by 4.8 percent
Total FTTH Subscribers were 6.726 million
The impact of 1GB networks was neglible during 2012. In fact, at the end of 2012, there were only 200,000 subscribers with speeds of 100Mbps – almost evenly split between cable and FTTH (with Cable edging out FTTH).
Surprisingly, the majority of FTTH subscribers (63%) receive speeds of 10-25Mbps.
The most notable takeaway from this most recent report (2012) was the growth in higher speed connections. For the first time, more than 50 percent of fixed broadband connections exceeded 10Mbps downstream, while the number of mobile broadband subscribers with speeds 3Mbs or greater grew by 125 percent within the past six months.
Although these newer FCC reports do provide additional granularity, we believe they continue to miss the opportunity to provide a more well-rounded view of the market by eliminating useful information that was included in past reports such as segmentation of broadband subscribers by operator type (RBOC, IOC, CLEC, etc.).
Additionally, we believe the following granularity would also be useful to fully assess the U.S. broadband market: residential versus business by type of broadband; downstream/upstream information by type of broadband (right now they only provide downstream); average downstream/upstream speeds by state to better understand just how big the bandwidth gap is from state to state; as well as pricing by region/zip code to better understand the affordability factor.
Finally, it will be interesting to see if the FCC will add a speed category for 1Gbps – given its “gigabit challenge”.