Source: Federal Communications Commission
- The percentage of U.S. households with access to 1000/100 Mbps increased from 26% in 2022 to 40.66% in 2023.
- Montana saw the most improvement in 25/3 Mbps speed access from 2022 to 2023.
- Nevada saw the most improvement in 1000/100 Mbps access over the one-year period: 6.56% in 2022 to 59.06% in 2023.
- Millions are still without high-speed broadband access.
Updated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data released in November 2023 reveals increased broadband access across the U.S.
Households nationwide can access speeds from 25 – 1,000 Mbps, and over 93% of U.S. households now have access to 25 Mbps of download speed and 3 Mbps of upload speed (25/3 Mbps), the FCC’s current minimum broadband speed standard.
Over 90% also have access to 100/20 Mbps, the FCC’s proposed new minimum broadband speed standard.
Recent broadband access growth is most evident in the percentage of households who gained access to broadband speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. In 2022, only 26% of U.S. households could access these gigabit speeds – in 2023, this number reached almost 41%.
Let’s break down some key areas of the U.S. that have seen the most improvement in broadband speed access.
The data in this report is sourced from the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Map data from June 2023, released by the FCC in November 2023. The presented findings represent wired and fixed wireless residential broadband data only.
Growth in state broadband access
When looking at access to the FCC’s minimum broadband speed standard, 25/3 Mbps, Montana saw the most improvement from 2022 to 2023, when access increased from 74% to almost 80% of households.
Almost 100% of households in Washington, D.C., have access to 25/3 Mbps, but Delaware and Massachusetts are not far behind with similar accessibility.
25/3 Mbps has been the FCC’s minimum broadband speed standard for some time now, but it is only in recent years that more focus has been placed on ensuring unserved and underserved areas across the U.S. have access to these speeds.
Unfortunately, 25/3 Mbps would not do much to support an active digital household with multiple devices being used on the same Wi-Fi network.
Because of constantly advancing internet technology, the FCC proposed to increase the minimum standard to at least 100 Mbps of download speed and 20 Mbps of upload speed.
Since many areas still do not have access to 25/3 Mbps, the push for internet access for all has never been more important.
Mississippi’s access to at least 100/20 Mbps of speed increased from 72.19% in 2022 to 80.18% in 2023 – the biggest increase in this speed category. Ohio, Arkansas, West Virginia and Maine also saw improvements, but Washington, D.C., again boasts the highest 100/20 Mbps access at 99.87% in 2023.
100/20 Mbps is enough speed for a household of 2 – 5 people to connect to the internet simultaneously, a far more useful speed than 25/3 Mbps.
On Nov. 1, 2023, the FCC announced it would launch an inquiry to evaluate the current minimum broadband standard.
“During the pandemic and even before it, the needs of internet users surpassed the FCC’s 25/3 standard for broadband. This standard is not only outdated, it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left offline and left behind,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.
“In order to get big things done, it is essential to set big goals. That is why we are kicking off this inquiry to update our national broadband standard and also set a long-term goal for gigabit speeds,” she said.
The 250/25 Mbps speed tier has the most surprising improvements since it’s well over the minimum broadband speed standard. North and South Dakota stand out, with access to 250 Mbps of download speed increasing by over 33% from 2022 to 2023.
D.C., Massachusetts and New Jersey have the most 250/25 Mbps access amongst their households, each with almost 100% access.
Gigabit speed access is the most difficult to achieve nationwide, but there have been strides in this area during the past year as well. Nevada’s gigabit access improved by almost 90%, with now almost 60% of households able to access 1000/100 Mbps.
North Dakota stands out again as the leader of gigabit speed access with over 76% of its households able to access it, up from 63% in 2022. Connecticut is also a leader with over 67% of its households able to access gigabit speeds, an increase from about 45% in 2022.
So, it’s clear broadband access is improving, but why?
The Broadband Data Collection Program focuses on updating the FCC’s national broadband map with more accurate data to determine unserved and underserved areas that need broadband funding. These maps have been notoriously inaccurate, leaving many without access to even the most basic broadband speeds.
With new and updated maps available, funding can now be allocated accordingly through the BEAD program, the most significant broadband funding program. It provides almost $43 billion toward broadband planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs across all 50 states and U.S. territories.
Now that the maps identify the areas that need this funding more accurately than before, broadband access is improving.
Internet for all
The most difficult part of achieving this goal will be broadband infrastructure build-outs in rural areas known to be unserved or underserved. These areas are usually only able to access satellite internet services, which have slower speeds and less reliable internet than other internet technology types.
But these funding initiatives open the doors for faster, more reliable internet technology, such as fiber and 5G internet, in rural areas.
Challenges to broadband access for all
Despite the recent growth in broadband access throughout the U.S, there are still significant challenges to broadband expansion.
As we mentioned above, unserved and underserved rural areas lack broadband infrastructure, and building out this infrastructure is very expensive, especially for fiber internet connections.
Since these areas generally have smaller and more spread-out populations, building broadband infrastructure doesn’t entice many internet service providers (ISPs) since they wouldn’t get the same return on investment as they would by developing infrastructure in urban areas.
Another roadblock is the price of an internet connection. Today, the average monthly cost of internet is between $70 and $90/mo., a steep price many cannot afford. There are programs to help those who cannot afford internet, like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), but even this has run out of funding and may not get approved for more.
Millions are still without broadband access
The growth in broadband access from 2022 to 2023 is promising, but millions still lack high-speed internet access.
As funding allocation continues, developing broadband infrastructure in these areas is paramount, and there are now more opportunities than ever before to introduce more reliable internet options in those hard-to-reach areas.
5G internet is one of those technology types offering rural households alternatives to satellite internet. T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet service is currently available to 60% of the U.S. population and continues to expand. Other big players in the 5G space include Verizon, AT&T and Starry.
Read more about which areas have the most and least broadband connectivity in Allconnect’s internet connectivity report.
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Written by:Camryn Smith
Cammy is a writer with Allconnect, growing her broadband industry knowledge for over a year on the internet marketplace. Her expertise lies in home internet and broadband service with a focus on providers, plans… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
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