An estimated one in four people in the US will not have access to the type of high-speed internet that they need to keep up with the latest news and information, according to a new report.
The report by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates that at least 20 million Americans, or more than a quarter of the population, will not be able to access internet access in 2020, as the nation moves to a gigabit network.
The move away from the legacy internet in favor of a fast, high-capacity network that is faster and cheaper than what most Americans have access will affect millions of Americans and hurt economic growth, the report said.
The study found that in 2020 there are only about one billion broadband connections available nationwide, and the network is limited to about a quarter million homes.
The industry’s most-common broadband provider is Verizon Communications, which is expected to see about $1.2 billion in annual profits in 2020.
But it’s the broadband providers’ ability to sell and resell that is the real issue, said Bill Mollison, president of the CEA.
He pointed to the recent merger of Verizon and AOL, a move that will give the company access to AOL’s massive online video service.
The merger, which will result in a $20 billion loss for the companies, is expected in the first quarter of 2021.
“It’s the way in which they sell services,” Mollisonsaid.
“They are making money on their services, but the way they do that is by using the services.”
While there are signs that internet access is slowly starting to improve across the US, it is not yet fast enough, the CEAA said.
A spokesperson for Verizon said in an email that the company is committed to delivering high-quality broadband service and supports the efforts of federal, state and local governments to improve the quality of service.
“While we believe that broadband is a key part of connecting all Americans, we also recognize that connectivity to the internet is not the same as the capacity and speed that is needed to deliver high-value, high quality services,” the spokesperson said.
But the CEAB report is not without its critics, including Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat.
He said the report is wrong on many points and the real problem is that the FCC has not done enough to support the deployment of broadband.
The commission is supposed to have oversight of the broadband industry and its policies.
The report noted that the Federal Communications Commission has not been tasked with ensuring that all providers deliver broadband services that meet their customers’ needs.
“We are not there yet,” said Booker, who has called for the FCC to be overhauled.
The FCC is in the midst of a reorganization, with the agency taking over the broadband market from the Office of Management and Budget.
The agency is now tasked with evaluating and implementing a broadband policy, which has not yet been published.