The US still trails its OECD counterparts in terms of broadband penetration, speed and affordability. Nevertheless, the market is currently witnessing significant investment activity in fibre deployments, HFC upgrades and mobile broadband network rollout. Much of the investment in fibre is being undertaken by a significant number of smaller players and municipalities rather than the two key telcos, which are concentrating on a hybrid fibre/copper network and limiting future upgrades beyond what has already been achieved. Broadband services in most regions still lack effective competition, with the AT&T and Verizon managing an effective duopoly in many areas of the country. Municipal activity, often geared at breaking this stranglehold and introducing competition and innovation, continues to be stymied by lobbying pressure from these main telcos, which has led to almost half of the states banning or restricting municipal or state-led infrastructure projects.
The FCC's March 2015 ruling on network neutrality recognises the need for substantial structural change and regulatory reform. In addition, there is growing recognition of the importance of a trans-sectoral approach to broadband networks including, for instance, the health, education and energy sectors, in order to fully realise the benefits of the nascent digital economy.
Although 19 states have legislation which restrict municipalities from developing their own broadband networks, there is a growing consensus, supported by the President in his 2015 State of the Union address, that such restrictions should be lifted. The FCC in February 2015 used its authority under the 1996 Telecommunications Act to overturn restrictive legislation in Tennessee and South Carolina. Despite anticipated legal challenges, the ruling should open wide the ability of all municipalities to build their own broadband infrastructures, so providing effective competition to the dominant telcos and offering lower-cost and improved services to consumers. The FCC in its network neutrality ruling also reclassified broadband as a telecom service rather than a content service, and extended network neutrality conditions to mobile broadband services.
This report provides overviews, analysis, relevant statistics and subscriber forecasts on the US cable, DSL, FttP, WiFi and WiMAX broadband markets. It also includes an updated analysis on recent court rulings affecting net neutrality.
Comcast ends bid to acquire TimeWarnerCable; FCC extends net neutrality to cover mobile broadband; telcos and industry bodies file suits against network neutrality rulings; Frontier acquires Verizon's wireline assets in three western states for $10.5 billion; New York state proposal for $1 billion investment in broadband infrastructure, using state and private funds; Next Century Cities program expands to 50 cities developing affordable broadband solutions; USDA makes available $190.5 million in loans and grants for rural broadband; President calls for FCC to redefine internet as a public utility; FCC rules 25Mb/s as a newly defined broadband speed; Liberty Media to spin off new Liberty Broadband Group; FCC approves $2 billion to improve WiFi to schools; Verizon stops selling stand-alone DSL service; NTIA reports on funding progress; FCC revises rules to allow WCS license holders to use 30MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band; FCC invites testing for migration from copper to fibre infrastructure; new rules to shape e-health developments; WhiteFi launches using analogue TV spectrum; FCC issues Gigabit City Challenge'; telcos' operating and financial data to Q4 2014; recent market developments.