Both Congress and the President have indicated that access to broadband for all Americans is critically important. Broadband is seen as a critical economic engine, a vehicle for enhanced learning and medicine, and a central component of 21st century news and entertainment. As part of our response to a mandate included in the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act of 2004, this report examines the factors that affect the deployment and the adoption of broadband services. In particular, this report provides information on (1) the current status of broadband deployment and adoption; (2) the factors that influence the deployment of broadband networks; (3) the factors that influence the adoption, or purchase, of broadband service by households; and (4) the options that have been suggested to spur greater broadband deployment and adoption.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Federal Communications Commission||In a draft of this report provided to FCC for review and comment, GAO recommended that FCC identify and evaluate strategies for improving the 477 data such that the data provide a more accurate depiction of residential broadband deployment throughout the country. In oral comments regarding this recommendation, FCC staff acknowledged that the 477 data have some limitations in detailing broadband deployment, but also noted that there had recently been a proceeding examining its broadband data collection efforts and that some changes to the data collection had been implemented. In that proceeding, the commission also determined that it would be costly and could impose large burdens on filers--particularly small entities--to require any more detailed filings on broadband deployment. Although FCC staff told us that analysis of potential costs had been conducted, exact estimates of these costs and burdens have not yet been determined. Moreover, many have expressed concern about ensuring that all Americans--especially those in rural areas--have access to broadband technologies. Policymakers concerned about full deployment of broadband throughout the country will have difficulty targeting any assistance to that end without accurate and reliable data on localized deployment. As such, FCC should develop information regarding the degree of cost and burden that would be associated with various options for improving the information available on broadband deployment and should provide that information to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House Energy and Commerce Committee in order to help them determine what actions, if any, are necessary to employ going forward.|