The Federal Communications Commission has just released a report about the U.S. broadband market and it found that an astounding 68% of these offerings don’t even meet governmental agency’s description of what “broadband” is. Could 4G networks help solve this problem?
In an 87-page report, the FCC said more than 2/3 of the services labeled as “broadband” can’t deliver 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. I remember paying for AT&T’s DSL service a few years ago and the broadband would give me a whopping 3 Mbps down – I’m not complaining too much, as I was coming off dial-up at the time and loved the heck out of it.
The FCC report also found that wireless services with data plans for Internet access grew to 52 million in the second half of 2009. For all connections over 200 kbps, mobile connections led the group with 39.4% of connections. With the growth of mobile data plans and the increased availability of 4G networks, can the carriers become significant home-replacement options?
Verizon just launched its 4G LTE network and this promises to deliver at least 6 Mbps on the go. We’ve seen some burst speeds of over 12 Mbps and the spectrum it uses means this service can penetrate walls easily. Verizon is also expected to have this network cover nearly all of the United States in a few, short years.
Sprint’s WiMax service is live in multiple markets and this 4G service consistently delivers between 5-8 Mbps with bursts of over 10 Mbps. The 4G service does have some issues with penetrating buildings though.
T-Mobile is also advertising its 4G service for phones, as its HSPA+ network delivers a theoretical 21 Mbps. There’s no mainstream home router equipment for this or the Sprint and Verizon offerings yet, but the speeds are definitely there.
The largest problem for 4G to close the so-called digital divide when it comes to broadband is the pricing and caps. On Verizon’s 4G LTE service, you’re paying for 5 GB of data a month and we’ve seen that can be surpassed in 30 minutes if you’re really trying.