StateScoop Coverage of Inaccurate Broadband Availability Data

Statescoop delves into our recent report which finds national broadband coverage is grossly over-represented by FCC data. Christopher Mitchell, director of ILSR’s Broadband initiative explains how residents of Rochester, Minn and nearby rural communities have few options for reliable Internet and how this trend extends to other communities throughout the United States.

Here are Mitchell’s contributions:

“The main takeaway is that some elected leaders have been fooled by aggregate statistics in broadband deployment,” Mitchell said. “We did the paper to demonstrate how statistics can be abused.”

Federal statistics cited in the report indicate that there are 19 broadband providers in Rochester, a number that would indicate a high level of market competition. But researchers found that not a single location has access to 19 providers, and in a majority of the city’s geography, there is no competition at all.

The report shows that about 19,000 Rochester residents only have access to broadband services through Charter Communications, and about 42,000 people don’t have access to a wireline broadband provider at all. According to the FCC, everyone in Rochester has broadband access because the agency lumps in slower, more expensive wireless services with wireline providers.

As huge gaps in broadband availability have persisted in Rochester, FCC statistics have provided politicians with misinformation, the researchers said. The local government  basically gets a “convenient excuse” not to act, Mitchell said.

Read the full story here.