3 Mbps home broadband speeds can't support consumers' content appetite, says report

Consumer demand for a growing array of third-party over-the-top (OTT) content won't be satisfied by a 3 Mbps connection, says a new U.S. Commerce Department report.

While 98 percent of consumers had a choice of at least two mobile operators and 88 percent had two or more wireline broadband providers that could deliver a 3 Mbps service, that speed became inadequate "when multiple household members consume video streaming services, music streaming, and online games," the report says.

At 3 Mbps, it would take a consumer about 2.25 hours to download a 6 Gigabyte movie, while the same movie would take only 16 minutes to download with a 25 Mbps connection.

When looking at the availability of service providers that could provide up to 10 Mbps, a typical U.S. consumer could choose among at least two wireline ISPs and could subscribe to three mobile providers. Beyond 10 Mbps, only 37 percent of the population had a choice of two or more fixed-service providers at speeds of 25 Mbps or greater and only 9 percent had three or more choices. 

The disparity widens even further when looking at speeds of 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. The Commerce report said that only 8 percent of the population could access two more providers that could provide a 100 Mbps connection, and 1 percent had access to three or more. However, only 3 percent of the population had 1 Gbps or greater available, and none had two or more ISPs at that speed. 

"We know that competition typically drives down prices. And we also know that increasingly, higher Internet speeds are required for optimal functionality of popular, high-bandwidth computing applications," says U.S. Commerce Department Chief Economist Sue Helper. "As more and more commerce and information move online, we risk further widening the digital divide if access to affordable, higher speed Internet doesn't keep pace."     

For more:
- see the release

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