Rural areas get more, faster broadband

Rural residents are finding it increasingly easy to subscribe to broadband Internet services, and receive increasingly faster speeds thanks to the efforts of community-based communications providers, according to survey results released by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA).

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NTCA's 2011 Broadband/Internet Availability Study found that 58 percent of those respondents with a fiber-deployment strategy plan to offer fiber to the node (where the final link from the pole to the customer isn't fiber) to more than 75 percent of their customers by the end of 2014. Sixty-six percent plan to offer fiber to the homes of at least half their customers in that same time frame — a 46 percent increase over last year's results.

The survey also showed rapidly increasing broadband speeds, with respondents reporting that more than 7 in 10 customers can receive speeds as fast as 6 Mbps. Forty-six percent can receive between 6 and 10 Mbps, and 32 percent can surf faster than 10 Mbps. And 66 percent of respondents' customers are electing to subscribe to broadband, an increase of 11 percent from last year.

“Efforts by rural carriers to increase fiber availability in their communities are paying off with significantly faster broadband speeds that are comparable to those available in more populated parts of the country,” said NTCA Economist Rick Schadelbauer. “These gains are the direct result of successful cost-recovery mechanisms that promote universal service.”