Data collected and analyzed by the Federal Communications Commission
on broadband is at odds with internal data Microsoft collected, bringing to light questions about how the government is assessing access to high speed internet and allocating funds to bridge any gaps in that service.
The FCC looks at whether a census block could have access to broadband. Internet service can be considered broadband
or high-speed internet when download speeds reach a minimum of 25 megabits per second (Mbps). Data from the FCC are self-reported by internet service providers, which report whether broadband is advertised and accessible in that area.
internally collected and analyzed data that paints a picture of how theoretical access may be used in practice. Microsoft anonymously measured how quickly its products were being used and updated, keeping the FCC census blocks and the 25 Mbps benchmark consistent in their analysis. While the FCC estimates that about 24.7 million Americans do not have access to broadband, Microsoft estimates that around 162.8 million Americans actually do not have access to broadband. By the FCC’s reporting, 8 percent of Americans do not have broadband, while Microsoft estimates that about half of Americans effectively do not have access to broadband.
Since the FCC focuses on access over usage, many parts of the country, particularly in poor and rural areas, do not receive federal funding to improve their high speed internet, an essential component to many parts of modern life.